dir. Leos Carax, 2012, France
The bottom line: holy shit!
“For Holy Motors one of the images I had in mind was of these stretch limousines that have appeared in the last few years. I first saw them in America and now every Sunday in my neighborhood in Paris for Chinese weddings. They’re completely in tune with our times — both showy and tacky. They look good from the outside, but inside there’s the same sad feeling as in a whores’ hotel. They still touch me, though. They’re outdated, like the old futurist toys of the past. I think they mark the end of an era, the era of large, visible machines.
“These cars very soon became the heart of the film — its motor, if I may put it that way. I imagined them as long vessels carrying humans on their final journeys, their final assignments.
“The film is therefore a form of science fiction, in which humans, beasts and machines are on the verge of extinction — ‘sacred motors’ linked together by a common fate and solidarity, slaves to an increasingly virtual world. A world from which visible machines, real experiences and actions are gradually disappearing.”
– Leos Carax, 2012
Opening this Friday at the Music Box Theatre is Holy Motors, the fifth feature film by Leos Carax, the formidable yet mysterious French writer/director whose rate of production is seemingly evolving in inverse proportion to that of America’s reigning reclusive auteur, the suddenly speedy Terrence Malick; there was a two-year gap between Carax’ first and second features (1984’s Boy Meets Girl and 1986’s Mauvais Sang), a five-year wait before the third appeared (1991’s Lovers on the Bridge, still Carax’ best known work), an eight-year gap before the fourth (1999’s Pola X), and thirteen years before Holy Motors debuted at Cannes to much fanfare last May. All of these films are characterized by a unique feeling for intensely poetic images, which are inextricably tied to the intensely personal/autobiographical nature of the films themselves. But also in opposition to the way Malick’s career has evolved (i.e., into a malaise of overly-pious tedium) is the way that Carax has generally gotten better over time. The wacky Holy Motors feels both genuinely daring and razor-sharp, as if the man who made it had spent the past thirteen years on a desert island with nothing to do but think up ways to best blow viewers’ minds with a new cinematic bag of tricks. While there is probably no such thing as a “perfect movie,” nor a perfect work of art in any medium, I am nonetheless bestowing my first perfect rating of 10 on Holy Motors because such a rating only makes sense when applied to (and indeed no other rating seems possible for) a film as crazy and personal and deeply felt as this. It makes virtually everything else I saw this year look and sound stale by comparison.
Holy Motors begins on a strangely humorous note as a sleepwalker in pajamas (director Carax himself) discovers a secret door in an airport hotel room, one that he unlocks with a key growing out of the end of his finger. The door leads to a movie theater where a packed house of hypnotized patrons watch a film that features the sound of foghorns and gunshots on the soundtrack while a dog and a naked boy wander up and down the aisles around them. Yep, it’s going to be that kind of movie. Like Dziga Vertov’s Man with the Movie Camera, this prologue effectively announces that the film will be a parable about the cinema while simultaneously also introducing the beautiful, dreamlike logic of the anti-narrative that will follow. The anti-narrative proper concerns a character named Monsieur Oscar (Carax’ real middle name) being shuttled through the streets of Paris in a white stretch limousine whose driver will take him, for reasons unexplained, from one mysterious “appointment” to another. Each appointment requires Oscar to literally adopt a new identity (the back of the limo is outfitted with a makeshift dressing room, complete with make-up and costumes) and act out a brief scenario with other characters who may or may not be fellow performers.
Monsieur Oscar is played by the brilliant acrobatic actor Denis Lavant who has now played Carax’ alter-ego in four out of the director’s five movies (and it is probably no coincidence that Pola X, the one without Lavant, remains Carax’ weakest effort to date). The driver of the limo is a woman named Celine (Edith Scob, best known as the star of the classic 1960 horror film Eyes without a Face, which is explicitly referenced in Holy Motors‘ haunting dénouement). Celine is a loyal friend and guide to Monsieur Oscar, and the second such character to be named for Carax’ favorite French author, after “Dr. Destouches” – a reference to the birth name of Louis Ferdinand Celine – in The Lovers on the Bridge. (In the earlier film, Destouches was an eye surgeon who enabled Juliette Binoche’s visually impaired character to see.) The scenes between Celine and Oscar in Holy Motors are the connective tissue between Oscar’s appointments, which otherwise play out as a series of diverse, self-contained vignettes.
Some critics have interpreted Holy Motors as a kind of cosmic fantasy where one man hops back and forth between multiple parallel lives while others, seemingly more literal-minded, see Oscar as an actual actor being taken from one movie set to the next, which could partly (but not entirely) account for all of the role-playing. In one astonishing early sequence, Lavant performs a series of action movie stunts in a black motion-capture costume before having simulated sex with a woman wearing a similar costume in red. This partially animated scene (the characters morph into a giant cobra and dragon, respectively) segues into another where Lavant reprises his “Monsieur Merde” role from Carax’ section of the omnibus film Tokyo!; Merde is a sewer-dwelling troll-like monster who kidnaps a supermodel (a game Eva Mendes) from a fashion shoot and whisks her back to his lair where the two engage in an off-the-wall beauty and the beast-style romance. According to Carax, Merde represents collective fears about terrorism, which I suppose goes a long way towards explaining why he dresses the supermodel in a burqa. Still other scenes involve Lavant as a beggar woman, a hitman and his doppelgänger target, a high-powered businessman, an elderly man on his death-bed, the concerned father of an adolescent girl, and so on.
Carax’ fragmented approach allows him to hopscotch deliriously from one film genre to the next, including an unforgettable trip to musical romance territory where Kylie Minogue, in a Jean Seberg-style wig, performs “Who Were We?,” a swooningly gorgeous song co-written by the director himself. Carax’ scattershot narrative also allows him to radically change tones without a moment’s notice, and yet the underlying, nightmarish-poetic logic holding everything together always feels ineffably right (Carax also helps to bind the disparate elements together by peppering the achingly lovely pre-motion picture “chronophotographic” experiments of Etienne-Jules Marey throughout). The scenes in Holy Motors consequently vacillate from the hilarious to the heartbreaking to the just plain head-scratchingly bizarre but remain compulsively watchable precisely because of the overall ephemeral-mongrel structure, even if one can’t always be sure exactly what the director is up to in the particulars. Is the film a metaphor for an individual’s journey through life? Or is it a commentary on the very nature of “acting,” whether literal or figurative? While watching Holy Motors, it was impossible for me not to reflect on the many roles I find myself playing over the course of a single day. Carax is generous enough to allow one the space to think about such things. And, while some viewers are likely to feel uncomfortable by being given that much freedom, others may feel they are dreaming themselves into the movie while watching it, not unlike the Buster Keaton of Sherlock Jr. (a performer Lavant resembles in his extremely physical approach to acting).
Finally, Holy Motors also seems meant to be a damning indictment of certain trends in the modern world, as the director’s comments above, quoted in the film’s press kit, attest. Carax is clearly skeptical of, if not outright hostile to, the internet, virtual reality, and the digitization of culture. At one memorable point in the movie, tombstones in Paris’ famed Pere Lachaise Cemetery can be seen as advertising the websites of their owners, while at another Oscar laments that motion picture cameras have grown steadily smaller to the point where they are now practically invisible, a clear protest of the phenomenon of digital supplanting film. Yet, crucially, Carax never allows his more reactionary sentiments to bog the film down in bitterness. On the contrary, the genius of this movie lies in the way he seems to be using his fear of modernity as a springboard to move forward and imagine a new poetics of cinema. The director may be 51 years old but he has a perpetually youthful soul; he has vociferously decried digital filmmaking (claiming that HD cameras are “being imposed on us”) but Holy Motors also contains what are easily the most stunningly beautiful digital images of any movie I have ever seen.
In this most kaleidoscopic of films, Carax frequently intertwines his feeling for beauty with a singularly pungent melancholy and, far from coming off like the novelty it might have in lesser hands, the film ends up packing an emotional wallop. Kylie Minogue’s character, named both “Jean” and “Eva Grace” in the credits, concludes her musical number by plunging from a rooftop to her death. This may be a reference to the suicide last year of Carax’ longtime girlfriend, the Russian actress Katya Golubeva, to whom he dedicated the film. I have read that Carax threw himself into the making of this movie as a means of dealing with his grief over the incident but, as far as I know, the notoriously press shy director has yet to publicly comment on the matter. Whatever the case, Holy Motors is a film that feels as if it were made from the heart – by an artist who still believes, naïvely, romantically and infinitely movingly, in the transformative power of the elemental juxtaposition of images and sounds, regardless of what technology may be used to capture them. As a result, this is one rabbit hole I greatly look forward to plunging down again and again.
November 5th, 2012 at 9:20 am
November 19th, 2012 at 4:03 pm
Really great review!
As someone who had a hard time understanding a lot of the themes in the film, this review does put a lot in perspective. I do believe that the movie did in fact have some of the most stunning and unusual cinematography I’ve ever seen; like the motion capture scene in particular. I also enjoyed the array of different characters shown, as it gives the film great pacing, and makes it an interesting view.
November 22nd, 2016 at 2:32 pm
This film was one of the weirdest movies i have ever seen and i still am very confused about the ending and the overall movie, but i think thats the beauty of it, the confusion, and the way its shot and how he plays each of the characters is amazing. The fact that you rated this 10/10 shows me something because you know every single types of movies but this one is a 10. I do think that there are multiple messages, one being we are different people every single day or just in one day, we do change as people. Second being the internet blowing up in this century, and how that is a good thing or a bad thing. Also, this shows the confusion in people, in just regular day people. The different scenes were all so unique and different in their own way and in a way it felt like i was a different film in every scene. This film definitely cannot be copied or close to it because it is truly its own film… one of the most unique films i have ever seen.
November 5th, 2012 at 8:22 pm
Finally,a 10/10 review for a 10/10 film.
Stretch limousines for Chinese weddings,shit,I have to admit it’s so true.
“as if the man who made it had spent the past thirteen years on a desert island with nothing to do but think up ways to best blow viewers’ minds with a new cinematic bag of tricks” – my favorite in the review.Also,the conclusion in the last paragraph,WOW!
November 5th, 2012 at 9:27 pm
Thanks, David. I can’t wait to hear what you think of the film. I’ve always been a Carax fan but I think he really outdid himself here.
November 5th, 2012 at 9:16 pm
Fantastic review … and this sounds like an absolutely stunning movie.
November 5th, 2012 at 9:33 pm
I hope it turns up near you soon, Ben. This film rocked the Chicago International Film Festival. The vibe at the sold out screening I saw there felt more like a rock concert than a movie. Hope it turns up near you soon.
November 10th, 2012 at 1:53 am
I love reading your blog posts, Now Playing: Holy Motors White City Cinema has been included in my bookmarks in chrome.
November 13th, 2012 at 11:04 am
Some said Lynch others Barney, but Carax has definitely produced one of the most unique and original films (yes, for the masses) easily in the last 12 years with Holy Motors. It had this “narrative nausea” that reminded me of The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (Greenaway ’89) where many of the scenes were so shocking, it left you sick while watching the next “normal” scene. I enjoy this syncopation Carax created with our main character Oscar (Lavant); off tempo like math rock and visually stunning the way M83’s music sounds. I would recommend seeing this 120 mins.-ish epic for the 1) visual innovation 2) Lavant’s masterfully physical performance as Oscar and 3) the strangest scene Eva Mendes will ever do in her career.
November 13th, 2012 at 11:11 am
Well said, John. “Three, twelve, shit!”
November 13th, 2012 at 10:26 pm
Well Mr. Smith, im glad you liked the movie and rated it a 10 out of 10. I, on the other hand, was speechless at the end of the movie and needed time to take in what it was i had just seen. I agree, the film was very interesting and different from what i am used to watching, but the whole entire time during the film i was thinking to myself “what the fuck?, what was that?, what am i watching?” i was really confused about “the appointments” and what kind of message the director was trying to give out to the audience. i was also very entrigued by the audiences reactions to the film. For example, the part where monsieur Oscar dressed himself as a leprauchan which requiered him to walk strange and eat flowers, a couple people in the audience laughed at that scene and i’m over here thinking “holy shit!” i just want to say that the director has a very wild and ridiculous imagination but that is the beauty of it. I Loved the fact that the movie was not boring but quiet interesting and at times i actually looked forward to his next appointments, but there were times where something deep down inside of me just wanted the film to end. No doubt about it, it was a wondeful experience and i am always open to something new. Denis Lavant is an outstanding and amazing actor, i look forward to seeing more films in which he acts in. Even though “Holy Motors” had me in a “Holy Shit” kind of reaction i enjoyed it very much and would like to say BRAVO! Thanks for the class trip and the wonderful experience i far more than enjoyed it and can not wait for the next whacky film.
November 15th, 2012 at 11:57 am
Could the audience at the beginning be the ones watching Oscar throughout the film? I thought that he was “performing” for a select few interested parties, almost like the powers that be in “Cabin in the Woods”, but maybe it’s to a theatre at large?
November 15th, 2012 at 12:39 pm
Great theory. I think you are correct: the people in the theater in the beginning are watching the exploits of Oscar (just like we are).
November 15th, 2012 at 8:07 pm
I must say, the amount of sleep it took in order to fully process ‘Holy Motors’ was excessive. However, I can’t help but feel like my dreams were far more vivid during the nights immediately following the screening of this film, and that, for me, is the true bottom line in ‘Holy Motors’. After some thought, I came to realize that this film is simply not meant to be “figured out”, but rather to be enjoyed as a deeply cathartic and otherworldly motion picture experience. As you stated in your review, it is quite clear that Carax’ has his own views about the state of our world as we know it and our ever-advancing society and increasingly un-personal life experiences and I would agree with your statement that “…Carax never allows his more reactionary sentiments to bog the film down in bitterness.” It is Carax’ brilliant ability to to intertwine yet keep somewhat separate the art of this film and his personal views that makes the film so accessible to all viewers. Similar to an asymptote in math, these two components come ever so close, almost touching, but always maintain their individuality. Carax is not force-feeding the audience his beliefs, rather, presenting them in a vibrant, and lovably weird way. In addition to Carax’ perfect harmony between art and his message, he displays such an effortlessness in his craft with ‘Holy Motors’. It has such a genuine quality to it, that I struggle to believe that he spent thirteen years on an island contriving this masterpiece. It feels as though he merely kept a journal of his very human dreams and one day finally decided to bring them to life using beautiful images and clever dialogue. However, I do agree that many viewers may experience discomfort with the level of freedom they are granted in the interpretation of a film such as ‘Holy Motors’, and I’ll even admit that in the hours following the film I was going out on every limb to try and decide what I thought this film MEANT. However, after a good night’s sleep, I’ve decided that it simply doesn’t matter. The beauty of this film is it’s malleability, its raw presentation of images and sounds, and the ambiguity of the “narrative” (if one can call it that) This allows it to mean so many different things for so many different people, at different times in their lives. This separates Carax’ work from anything else I’ve ever seen. It is not a story that can be memorized, internalized, that will eventually go stale, but a work that transcends time with its overflowing soul. ‘Holy Motors’ is shrouded in the darkness of ambiguity, through which the light of our feelings must lead the way.
November 16th, 2012 at 11:11 am
Great point about the film not being meant to be “figured out,” Tina El G. No work of art should be like a puzzle or a math problem with an ultimate solution. If that were the case, then there would be no point in revisiting the work (or even really thinking about it again) after “solving” it. Holy Motors is haunting, poetic, mysterious and evocative and is likely to live on in the hearts and minds of everyone who sees it for a long time afterwards. Of course, it is also not for everyone but I think there is something beautiful about the way that no two people who watch it are likely to come away with the same interpretation (as evidenced by the conversations I had with you and your classmates afterwards).
Now make it a point to see Mulholland Dr. soon. It’s the American Holy Motors!
November 16th, 2012 at 4:13 pm
I have to admit that Holy Motor is the most impressive and wacky movie I’ve ever seen. Watching the whole movie makes me tired and uncomfortable because I can’t help thinking of what Carax is trying to express. The beginning of the film—Carax is sleepwalking and opening the secret door in the hotel with a key growing on his finger— is depressing more than funny for me. From the window we can tell it is an airport hotel nearby the flourish city, but the sound makes me thinking of a harbor. This conflict and the dark, blurry scene, the weird behavior and the numbed audiences, the giant black dog and the soundtrack—all makes me feel uncomfortable but can’t stop wondering what will come next. The film keeps haunting me after I watched it. Not only every appointment of Oscar, but also every detail worth to be think twice.
November 16th, 2012 at 4:51 pm
Helen, I’m glad it made such a big impression on you but I think you should only feel “tired and uncomfortable” if you’re trying too hard to make sense of “what it all means.” You’re better off just letting the movie happen to you and not thinking about it. Let it wash over you like a dream!
That’s an interesting connection you drew between the airport in the first scene and the “harbor” sounds of the movie playing in the theater. The harbor sounds also connect the movie theater scene to the following scene where Monsieur Oscar (playing the businessman) leaves his home, which is actually shaped like a giant ship.
November 18th, 2012 at 2:14 pm
While watching Holy Motors, I was always between the thought of “what the hell did I just watch” and “what could possibly happen next to top what I just saw” and each appointment kept blowing me away. In the beginning I though Oscar was just an ordinary wealthy business man off to his office with his 9 appointments for the day. But once he grabbed that wig in the limo I knew I was in for 2 hours of bewilderment. Once I had time to think the movie over I noticed that Oscar plays roles in the movie that mimic those that we play every day in our own lives, The concerned father who works too much. To the person who finds the love that got away, to the street woman that we, who live in the city, pass every day without giving a second thought to. This movie was definitely an emotional roller coaster that I think Ill have to ride more that once to fully appreciate its meaning and hidden beauty.
November 18th, 2012 at 3:19 pm
Someone somewhere referred to this as “French Quantum Leap” and I will from now on refer to it thusly.
That being said I get to see this in two weeks and I have been anticipating it since the effusive praise after its Cannes premiere. Your review only stokes that fire even further.
November 18th, 2012 at 10:22 pm
First I truly enjoyed your review Professor Smith. I believe only a true movie buff and or an eccentric person should write a review for this film. Holy Motors…what can I say that has not already been stated? This movie was one of the sickest, most entertaining, colorful and peculiar films I’ve ever seen. I believe it was mentioned in a comment but I agree this isn’t a movie that should be figured it. The extremities in this movie are by far the most entertaining in a weird kind of way. I kept wondering why and how Monsieur Oscar kept up with the facade of being so many different people in a day. Did Celine have a crush on Monsieur Oscar? Was he like immortal? He was shot and stabbed and never died. What is the purpose of these assignments and who request them? My mind continued to race and wonder during the entire film. I even jumped to the thought of how many people I may encounter on a given day that may be completing an “assignment”.
November 19th, 2012 at 4:29 pm
And you are “completing assignments” to other people too, are you not, Tanesha?
November 19th, 2012 at 12:18 am
This film was very difficult to understand, but in the other hand it was phenomenal. It was very intense and incredible to see the role of this man playing nine different characters in an entire day. When I saw the first scene where the man is leaving to work, what first came to my mind was that he would go and attend to his 9 different appointments and then he would go back home. I thought he would go to the same house he left at the beginning of the movie. It was not how I predicted it would be. He went to a different house and probably he would to a different one the next day. Monsieur Oscar lived so many different lives every day. His life was not a “cycle” as the one most of us live in every day. We start our day or week at some point, but at the end we get back to that same point again; a routine. That is why I think Monsieur Oscar’s life was just awesome, being literally somebody different every single day. Perhaps we all are like Monsieur Oscar, but we just do not realize it. We play different characters in a daily basis, not literally, but we do.
I totally agree in what you said. The director makes us experience a variety of film genres in “Holy Motors.” We can see comedy, drama, suspense, etc. Those genres combined are the motor for the movie to be interesting at the eye of the audience.
As I said, it was a very complicated movie, but that is what makes it enjoyable.
November 19th, 2012 at 12:40 am
I was prepared to watch this film and try to understand what is going on as I watch it. I soon gave up on it and just decided to piece it together after I watched it. It left me with feelings of confusion and satisfaction. Oscar acting out 9 very different roles throughout the day was very interesting to watch. The movie did become more bizarre as it went on. In the beginning he entered a car to see his first role. Later in the film he killed a banker who was him in the beginning. He then gets shot many times by bodyguards. Oscar dies more than just those two times and this makes me think that everything feels more dreamlike. The end where there were many limousines got me thinking were all the people involved actors as well. If that is true, this film is a large collection of what the director wants to see in a scene with influence from reality such as the scene with Jean. This film is truly one of the most interesting that I ever seen as it almost seems like the director put himself in every role. I can definitely give this a 10/10 since it took me days to understand this film just a bit more, but I may have to watch it again to truly know what is going on in it.
November 19th, 2012 at 1:14 pm
I am so glad you made this a mandatory fieldtrip. To be honest, if it was only extra credit, I probably wouldn’t have gone to see this film. I thought he film was incredible and I completely agree with the 10 that you rated it. The acting alone was enough to give this film such a great review. You find out from the very beginning how random the plot is and since you warned us before we even went to the theater, I was ready to be confused. Since I was prepared for the strange plot, it was easier to sit back and enjoy its weirdness without wondering too much what it was about. Although the plot didn’t make a ton of sense, I was still able to follow it pretty easily until we came to the scene with “Jean.” After reading your post it makes much more sense that he added that scene as a reference to his deceased girlfriend. I have to say, the leprechaun-like, sewer dwelling, troll thing was my favorite character that was played! Thanks for taking us to see this movie!
November 19th, 2012 at 2:59 pm
I agree. You have to be completely open-minded about seeing a movie about an actor acting in numerous scenes. I think what confused people the most about the film are the dreamlike parts of the movie. Oscar probably died a bit too much as well as many other actors in the movie. I personally enjoyed it, there was always something grabbing your attention so you couldn’t take your eyes of the screen. This type of movie requires one to watch it over and over again just to get the plot. I found it very understandable and will never forget the scenes I witnessed that night. Unforgettable!
November 19th, 2012 at 3:49 pm
I thought this was a beautiful surreal film that catered to all of my ADD tendencies. I liked how each appointment made a unique point about our society’s nature. Such as when the photographer is screaming “beauty, beauty, beauty!” while he is snapping away at a fashion model and “weird, he’s so weird, he’s so weird!” at Oscar’s sewer-dwelling, money-eating troll character. This pointing out common views of what is beautiful and what is indeed uncommon. Of which the out come of this encounter ends up with the troll naked with a full on boner and the super model in a burqa, the opposite of what the audience probably wanted to see. I do agree with you in that the film could be a metaphor for the roles that we play on a daily basis. As everyone does act differently in certain situations. I like that the director exaggerated this concept, since I haven’t seen too many films that have done this. Overall I thought this film was over the top and gorgeous. It’s like a mesh of well thought out performance art strung together with the concept of a long hard day of work in a field one would have thought they would have been done with by now. Thanks for the field trip!
November 19th, 2012 at 4:21 pm
Leaving the Music Box last Monday, I tried to wrap my head around what I had just saw, in hopes of having something intelligent to say on the car ride home. A bunch of different interpretations came to mind, which could be one of the biggest strengths of the structure of the film, one that you commented on in your review I kept coming back to. The idea of costumes and masks have huge symbolic impact when thinking of the many roles we play in our own day to day movies. At one moment we are an employee somewhere, we put on our uniform or costume and assume the role of “human that is nice and pleasant to everyone we meet”. When our shift ends, we come home and are able to change out of that character and move into who we really are(just another character but one we get artistic liberty in creating). There seems to be a lot of commenting on that aspect of identity or lack of real identity. I don’t know if we ever get a real view of who Mr. Oscar is. He starts his day finishing his appointment from the night before of “strange extremely important businessman who may need to start carrying a gun 1” and moves to “old beggar woman.” There is a chance that we catch a real glimpse of who he may be outside the backseat of the limo when he has his walk with Kylie Minogue, but she begins singing and the idea of reality flies off the roof minutes before she does. But Oscar seems truly pained and in anguish when he makes it downstairs to find her on the pavement, but wasn’t she just carrying out her appointment? Is she really dead? Is Oscar just tired of the whole thing? It’s too out there to use plain logic to understand. I’m glad you gave a bit of insight about the burqa. Of all the wacky things happening in the movie, that image was one I thought for sure people would have a problem with. More stray observations, the filming of the scene that would ultimately turn into a computer animation was fantastically bizarre and brilliant. His ability to turn the real life making of the scene into something 10x more aesthetically beautiful and interesting than what it actually appears after the computers have there turn is awesome. The ends don’t necessarily justify the means. I also wondered what this would look like on blu-ray, meaning how would the chapters be set up and if Carax would have any control of that and could it give us clues on how to interpret the movie, like Muholland Drive, a movie I still haven’t seen but was brought up on the car ride how when talking about Holy Motors. I was also surprised by the amount of violence. Not that is was bad or good, it just seemed like there was more than what I would expect in a labor of love. All in all, Holy Motors is fantastic, and I’ve recommended it to everyone who I’ve had any sort of conversation with, not just conversations about movies. I’ll see it again soon.
November 19th, 2012 at 4:34 pm
Well, where do I start?? I truely believe that this movie has two way to look at it and critic it. On one hand I really was impressed by the film and mostly by the characters that were played in this film but on the other hand I really was like what the hell is this?? The movie was at times extra for me and overwhelming because I hate not knowing things out and by having no clue what certain things ment it was harder for me to follow through but this just any other piece of art has to be taken in and allow it to set it. Its okay to have different opinions and reasons as to why happen because this isn’t a film where a leasson is clearly giving and its not ment to figure it out or have an exact meaning to everything. Its constant wierdness made the movie a little thrilling because the question “ok what can possibly happen next?” kept appearing in my head. However, on the other hand when I put my mind to going with he flow I really enjoyed watching all of the different characters being played. My favorite was the one with ms. Mendez in it. I thought the costume and the character was so crazy that it totally had my attention focused on him. I got the comedy sense for the most part and its constant abstract like events kept reasuring me what a great piece of art this was. The colors in the film were bright and made certain objects pop out more which I enjoyed and even gave the movie a sense of happiness for me. I liked the fact that it was constantly moving and there wasn’t any boring parts. Over all I truly am in the middle with the movie but I would watch it over again it was a very different yet fun experience.
November 19th, 2012 at 4:39 pm
As others have mentioned I too enjoyed your review of the film “Holy Motors” But I must say that I would only be able to rate Carax’s acting a 10. Personally the film was too much for me to busy. I can see why Carax’s is characterized by his use of “feeling for intensely poetic images.” I kind of thought that the film was a little “cosmic fantasy” like in the scene when he picks up his daughter from the party, that part seemed real to me. Then like you said for the “literal minded” Oscar was just an actor being driven to his different stage settings. I must say his acting skills are phenomenal. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone change and get into character so quickly. I wonder what his true motivation was. He’s really good and puts on a great show. His role playing is like no other that I can think of. I thought about what you said about “how many different roles do you play in a day.” Unfortunately mine are nowhere near as entertaining as his. But I guess I can see how this movie could be a metaphor for someone journey through life. I guess I was just one of the uncomfortable viewers that found the movie hard to dream into while hoping that I would have nightmares after watching this.
November 19th, 2012 at 5:05 pm
Holy Motors takes you on a roller-coaster of differ scenes that you may or may not relate to and may leave you saying “what the hell was that.” But this is from the director’s point of view and I do not think he really cares if you can relate to the movie. In the beginning of the movie the dream is the director awaking from the years away from making a movie, the key he uses to unlock his mind and let the audience in to see his new vision. The audience he has in a trance so they can view his vision without forming an opinion while watching the movie. The little boy suggests that he is vulnerable but at the same time the massive dog is his protection against any criticism. He takes you through all the difference scenes which makes you wonder what’s real and what’s not. In the scene where here he is the sewer, he is walking on one side and there are people walking on the other side, are these people acting out a scene like he is? The scene with the little girl is the car (or was that a little girl) is something that is relatable. Many girls have these same issues and may get over it, while others never do and it affects their self- esteem through adulthood. As you mentioned the scene with Kylie Minogue’s killing herself may be due to his real life girlfriend committing suicide. This may be his way of dealing with her death. He shows two ways of dealing with death, the scene with the old man on his death bed showing you have time to say your goodbye and brace yourself for the death and dealing with your grief and then losing someone suddenly to suicide and not getting to tell them how much you love them and will miss them, which makes the grieving process worse. This is a work of art that would mean different things to different people but made from the point of view of the director. Like it or not it’s his vision no apologies. I think you could watch this movie several times and come up with different interpretations each time.
November 19th, 2012 at 5:09 pm
Well, my initial reaction after watching Holy Motors, was what the hell did I just watch?! I came into this knowing it was going to be a bit off wall for me, something that I typically don’t watch, yet opened minded. I am a very impressionable person and take film very personally and dive into & always put myself in the film. After this film I couldn’t help but feel weird, out of place and questioning a lot of things. I haven’t had a film weird me out that much but still make me think about and life in general. Still, it stunned me in a weird way but after reading this review I can understand and appreciate it a bit more. One way I saw the film was like a dream, like my dreams that are strange and bounce around so I can appreciate that and see the beauty in that way of film now. Another way of seeing this film is to see all the main roles we play in our entire life or which to play. All the roles are shown with one versatile character that molds into what is needed by him. Something that sticks out to me, is that within all the craziness and jumping around there is still a type of control/ stability/ sense of ordinary when Oscar is picked up as business man with a family and later dropped off with an different unconventional family. After reading the review now I can understand or make some sense of the Jean character and the death of her and her partner. Maybe this film is a way of how the director dealed with his loss and felt dream world was better then reality. He expressed everything he felt without holding back and combined it all and the ending result was this film. The scene of Oscar and Jean I found pleasant because it gave a sense of hopeless romance and accompanied by a good song. But the ending of the scene was sad and tragic. Overall, this film is beyond what I thought and still don’t understand everything but it is entertained and on your toes and continue thinking even after the film. So I believe a good movie is one that true makes you feel something deeply and you take away something from it good or bad but hopefully good more.
November 19th, 2012 at 5:15 pm
This film really seemed to be the illicit spawn of Terry Gilliam and David Lynch. The initial sequence emotes Lynch’s morbid sense of disconnection among human beings, but gently transforms into a fanciful world of role playing while being carted around on a magic carpet. Whether this plot line is to be interpreted literally or seen as a metaphor through which one views humanity/civilization, is not, what I think Denis Lavant attempted though his art. To try to define this piece would be too narrow minded, in this reviewer’s opinion. I think that Michael Smith is correct in that he leaves the question of what the true meaning of this piece is, open. After all, proper art does not pose answers, but merely poses the questions that are deep enough for one to continuously ponder.
November 19th, 2012 at 5:17 pm
Monsieur Oscar represents the viewer since we start to follow him, he introduces us to the secret door that leads to the movie theatre, I see it as if Oscar was opening the doors of perception in a dream that leads to the theater in where dreams are visually portrayed. It’s like a dream where the viewer can jump from various doors of perceptions and immerge in a world where what your mind conceives becomes possible.
It can also be a representation of the personas we become in certain situations that makes us feel that we are a different characters various situations; like the roles in daily life.
Personally, I thought about the beauty of woman when Oscar kidnaps Eva and then covers her body using a burqa, the beauty of the model will not be appreciated showing her sensual body almost nude; her beauty is rather more appreciated if she covers herself because that makes her mysterious and the mysterious intrigues therefore is what provokes arousal of the senses. The director Carax made the film extraordinarily and mysteriously bizarre that it arouse my senses and intrigued me into wanting to feed my visual perception with more beauty, and as I previously said the mysterious intrigues and that is why I think the director made the film not so nude that the viewer will take time to submerge and imagine what lies underneath the “burqa”.
For an estrange reason after watching the film I felt like it had been a long time, it was quite hard for me to be thinking about the present moment that I was living in because I was submerged in a dream and I did not precisely knew when I woke up. The director Carax did arouse my senses and transported me into a different world that exists within the world I coexist, it was like a dream within a dream.
There are things that do not need to be understood to be appreciated, and Holy Motors is one of those cases, one does not need to know the reasons of existence but to exist. Although Holy Motors was a little puzzling it was quite exceptionally delightful, finally I must confess that I will not see limousines the same way I used to before watching Holy Motors.
Professor, thanks for introducing me to this film and to immerse me into the love for cinema.
November 19th, 2012 at 5:59 pm
Leos Carax is genis! like you said in yor posting its like is thought for hours & hours about the ins and outs of the film and different ways yo blow our minds! I would have never went freely to see the film myself, but i gotta say it was pretty damn awesome. the mixed genras and carful detail really make the film original and entertaining. my favorite part was when ending… very weird way to end a movie, but creative non the less.
November 19th, 2012 at 6:15 pm
I have never seen anything as crazy as “Holy Motors” and make so much sense. From what I saw it seemed that Mr. Oscar was a very rich man. So all the oppointments that he had, it all made sense. They were all jobs and his schedule was very tight. So he had to perform each job and keep going till the end of the day. I liked the part when Oscar and a young lady where doing an animation display and the part when he was a crazy leprechaun terrorizing the streets. Those were my favorites because they were two opposites. The animation part he seems to be the ladies man and seductive and the leprechaun part he was more of an outcast. He took the lady played by Eva Mendes captive and I can only guess that he rapped her because he got completely naked and she looked unwilling but scared at the same time. As opposed to the lady from the animation part was turned on to him from the start. But from a scale from 1-10, I give Holy Motors a 7.6 it was very good. However, the ending brings the ratings down. I was confused and it seemed a little racial in a may. His last job was him returning home to his family, but they are monkeys. I gave it time to think about it and till now it still makes no sense. The only thing I get from it is that you never know what is going on in a person’s house from the outside. With that being said the movie was good and I enjoyed it. If part 2 is starring Eva Mendes it will be a must see.
November 19th, 2012 at 11:20 pm
Seeing Holy Motors was a unique and pleasurable experience. The scene of the father and daughter on the way home from the party spoke directly to me on personal level. It’s a two part commentary on how parenting is sometimes ineffectual while simultaneously criticizing people in these times who allow themselves to bury themselves in technological isolation. The note about Merde being a commentary on collective fear of terrorism is really interesting too. A creepy little white man from a fairy tale as symbolic representation really speaks volumes to the heart of that matter. The use of actors as characters playing roles is an exposition in phenomenology . The forms of life that people adopt through socialization and conditioning are integral to what we are as people and this determines to some extent how our lives play out. Oscar reads scripts and goes into the world and plays out roles. The ambiguity in the story of where the dossiers come from is like how the forms of life we accept are formulated in time by events and people we are not fully aware of. I agree with you about how Carax gives space to the viewer to think. Which is what makes the film so wonderful. The use of dream logic like narrative emancipates the viewer’s focus from the minutiae inherent to conventional narrative forms.
December 31st, 2012 at 11:19 am
[…] It’s been over two months since I first saw Leos Carax’s Holy Motors at the Chicago International Film Festival and I still haven’t quite been able to wrap my brain around its brilliance. This exhilarating hallucinatory journey concerns a man named Oscar (the great, almost impossibly expressive Denis Lavant) who finds himself, for reasons never explained, embodying eleven different avatars over the course of one long day. Whisking him from one “appointment” to the next is an elderly female chauffeur named Celine (an enchanting Edith Scob), and their warm-hearted bond perfectly balances out the moodier aspects of Carax’ eulogy for what he sees as the end of our era of “large visible machines.” Out of all the movies I’ve seen in the 21st century, none struck me as more deeply personal (nor more embarrassingly private – it was dedicated to Carax’ girlfriend who committed suicide shortly before production began, an event that is symbolically recreated in the film). Although Carax may not care about aggressively courting critics or even audiences, he still believes, like a child, that movies are magic. I defy you to watch this film and not believe it too. Full review here. […]
April 25th, 2013 at 6:51 pm
This is a wonderful write-up. I am going to take more time looking into this subject.
May 14th, 2013 at 5:02 pm
Useful information, many thanks for sharing these in this article.
July 24th, 2013 at 7:13 am
[…] Holy Motors (Carax, France, 2012) – 10 Certified Copy (Kiarostami, Italy/France, 2010) – 10 […]
March 16th, 2014 at 9:56 pm
[…] celluloid. But don’t take my word for it. Please read Michael Glover Smith’s lovely review, nay , his lovely paean to this exquite work. (I sure wish I could write like this! ) Excuse me. […]
June 18th, 2014 at 10:12 pm
Holy Motors was fascinating to watch, and I looked for clues to see where the film was trying to take me. I went for a wild ride.
At the beginning of the motion/animation scene, Oscar’s character used biometrics to get through the locked door. The fact that he had to spit in it showed how Carax felt about this emerging technology. When Oscar was running on the treadmill and shooting his automatic weapon, 3D shapes were flying across the wall. The faster the treadmill went, the faster he ran while shooting his weapon, ultimately falling to the ground. These actions insinuate that both guns and technology will be our downfall. The sexy dance/sex simulation used to create a high quality animation for the clients, is another technological device portraying a snake and a dragon, both deadly to man.
I loved the music in the accordion scene and the way the musicians really got into it. The scene was full of passion and life. This scene was a throwback to a previous era when music was live, in comparison to the music that we listen to now in digital form on our I-pods, CDs, and the Internet. In the scene in the old hotel, the room was decorated beautifully with antique furniture and a modern television and radio, both necessities, but Carax was contrasting how ugly they were against the beauty of the room.
The appearance of the color red was predominant in the film and seemed to reference global symbols of lust (the red motion suit the woman who had simulated sex with Oscar’s character was wearing; the red hair of the supermodel), anger (the red hood on the assassin; the red flowers the troll ate), and death (the red mannequin parts—the death of the department store that was going to be a luxury hotel; the red carpet and flowers in the hotel room where the old man died).
June 19th, 2014 at 6:42 am
Great observations, Donna. In addition to red, green is also very prominent throughout the film. I wonder if Carax was taking his cues for the color scheme from the color of traffic lights, which would be fitting given all of the limo scenes!
June 19th, 2014 at 11:21 am
As I said in class it reminded me a lot of the book “The Messenger” by Markus Zusak. In the book the main character does a series of tasks which I found very similar to the journey that Monsieur Oscar makes in this movie. He calls himself the messenger because he thinks he is just doing someone elses bidding and that is all. The dénouement of this book is when *spoiler alert* the main character realizes that he is not the messenger, but that he is the message. Its a statement on how everyone can makes a difference and how we need to realize that how we live our lives affect just more than just us.
So watching this movie this is kind of the mindset I was in. I wanted to know what happened to the supermodel after the troll left. Has she experienced a change of character? I found it really interesting that the troll kidnaps her because, you are led to believe, due to her beauty, but then when he has her to himself he covers her face and covers almost every part of her in a get-up resembling a burqa. Maybe this scene was to show that supermodel that all different kinds of people are beautiful. The scene where he is playing the father of the girl who left the party I couldn’t get this idea out of my head. Just think the long term (either positive or negative) affects that conversation and that experience will have on that girl.
So I was thinking maybe the point of Monsieur Oscar was the change these people lives, but as the scenes went on I began thinking maybe not. The dragon sex scene wouldn’t change anybodies life for the better or worse. It was more of a statement on internet culture which you could argue the whole movie is about. I found the murder/doppleganger scene really interesting because I think to a certain point when we are online we can be whoever we want and we start to feel this resentment for who we actually are. I found it really powerful that both the banker he shoots and the man he stabs in the throat are himself. I think its a statement on how we can sometimes lash out and attack people online, and even in real life who we think are too similar to ourselves or what we want to be.
But the more we talked about the movie class I was thinking that we were focusing to much on the man, Oscar. I think Oscar is very much like the limos in the movie. Carax calls them ” long vessels carrying humans on their final journeys” and I think you could make an argument that Oscar is the same. He is the way we get to the story. Maybe we as the viewers are the ones who are changing rolls in each scene. We go from emotion to emotion to emotion right along with Monsieur Oscar going from role to role. I think Oscar was just Carax vehicle, much like the limos, to take us from one emotion or experience to another.
June 19th, 2014 at 7:04 pm
Fascinating thoughts, Lindy. I think you are right about Oscar being a “vehicle,” not unlike the limos. If ever a movie was made about which it could be said that “you,” the viewer, are the protagonist, it is this one!
June 19th, 2014 at 6:08 pm
What can I say about Holy Motors that hasn’t already been said? Every time I think of this movie there is always a new theory on what its about and I think that was the main goal of Carax to make the audience interpret the whole purpose of the movie. Every part of the movie was present as open and even without closure it didn’t present itself as a disappointment due to no real plot line. Carax was trying to make the audience ask as many questions as possible.
This brings to the many different messages that Carax presented throughout the film. These may seem endless and that is one of the themes in the film I want to touch upon, endlessness. As seen towards the end of the film, Monsieur Oscar never stops his job even when he goes to sleep at night. He even defies death in order to continue doing it. At first I thought it was a continuity error after he got stabbed in the neck however after watching the film further I realized there was a reason why he kept going and that is that he cannot stop and that even death cannot stop him. I think what Carax was trying to convey is that the disguises and veils that people put up in different places will always stay there. This also lends me to believe that there is a possibility that no one died in this film and no matter how severe the injury, they would continue their assignments. To relate to online culture, there is the possibility of him saying that the appearances that are kept up online stay there forever and even after death (as shown on the headstones in the cemetery).
I think one of the most important scenes in the film and what really brings the film together is the hotel scene, more so the end of it. It led me to believe that not only Oscar and Elise were both on appointments but also maybe everyone else in the film. Due to the exaggerated nature of the film, I believe that it in fact takes place in the future. Carax wanted to show that you never know who is acting and who is being their genuine self, however more importantly is that no one wants to be their true self anymore. Everyone wants to be someone else, which only became possible recently. That I think is his biggest message.
Overall I thought the film was very entertaining from beginning to end. I enjoyed the music used in this film as well as the use of lighting to make the digital camera look as good as possible. Definitely a movie that I will never forget. -Lucas Koturbasz
June 20th, 2014 at 7:53 am
I agree with you that Alex never dies in the film. Alex actually dies FOUR times: he kills his doppelganger twice (first the long-haired, bearded Theo, then the banker whom we saw at the beginning) and ends up himself “dying” in the process both times — before being resurrected like a video game avatar. This begs the question: does Eva Grace/Jean die when she leaps from the building?
June 21st, 2014 at 7:20 pm
Holy Motors was an amazing movie to watch! I haven’t seen a weird movie like this in a long time, so I enjoyed it! 🙂 I could not wait to see what was going to happen next, after every scene. Each scene was a total different adventure/appointment. Carax does a great job in incorporating a different feeling in each scene.
For example he makes you feel empathy and compassion for the old lady Oscar Monsieur portrays, then there’s a comedy/suspense scene where he dresses up as a leprechaun and kidnaps the supermodel, Kay. In another scene, Monsieur plays a dying man while sharing his last words with his niece. My favorite scene was when he plays the accordion and music live with the group of men. In addition to this, I enjoyed the scene where Monsieur has a talk with his daughter it seemed so vivid and real. I believe that all these scenes tie in somehow with globalization.
Every culture around the world is different yet they all seem to coincide and share the basics. What I mean by that is, unfortunately there will always be poverty around the world and each culture might experience it differently. I believe Carax put that scene in the beginning to remind us to be simple and humble, there is people globally that suffer from poverty. Even the scene where Monsieur plays the leprechaun, everyone looked at him weird and with fear but when he meets and sees Kay everyone turns their attention from “beauty, beauty, beauty…” to what are we looking at? However, some people were still curious and interested that relates to how today everyone expresses themselves differently. Society has had a great influence on how we should think, act, or even opinionate. But theirs is absolutely nothing wrong with expressing our true colors and who we are. We are globalization, where a melting pot of different cultures.
I believe that in all, Carax wanted the audience to grasp that all around the world things are done differently but with the same concept if that makes sense. I have to comment on two more scenes. The scene where Monsieur walks through the streets playing the accordion clearly shows how music was played and how today it’s so different. I’m sure when older generations saw that scene it brought them back a flashback of how things use to be back a couple generations ago.
Last but not least, the scene where Monsieur talks with his daughter, I’m sure every girl or boy has had some sort of talk with their parent/s when they attend their first party and I’m positive each culture does it differently. By Carax including that scene it made the audience think, “I’ve had that talk with my kids.”
Overall, the film was very vivid and well done. I have a whole collection of movies and this is one to definitely add!
June 22nd, 2014 at 12:36 pm
Holy Motors reflects the globalization of film throughout the shorts that actually comprise the movie. That segment that is used to comment on paranoia and fear of terrorism, also shows how films have globalized. The monster movie type scene with Eva Mendes and Denis Lavant (playing the character Merde’), had a few aspects that were heavily influenced by other cultures and the subject matter is a world wide fear. In that scene they play the original Godzilla music, that is a film from Japan. Which in a way connects with the world, in the way that everyone at some point is scared of something(not the best connection, but it exists). The music is a explicit example of a foreign influence on the film. Also, the use of a foreign actor (Eva Mendes) to project the fear of terrorism. The fact that film has because a global art form allows for foreign actors to appear in films outside of there county. Without some degree of film Globalization that scene wouldn’t have happened.
As for the effect of the internet, YouTube, and video game culture. That can be seen throughout the entire film. A great example is how the film is done in shorts. The internet and specifically YouTube play almost entirely in short films. A good example are lets plays, they are anywhere from 15-30 minutes long, at the high end almost as long as the shorts in Holy Motors. Another way to look at the film and its connection to internet culture, is through the use of multiple identities. I do not mean to ignore its commentary on how that is done in real life, just that it is much easier and generally expected on the internet. In some ways it is more exaggerated, generally because no one actually knows who you are. Just as the dude quickly switched between characters, how you act online switches with who you encounter, where you are, and whether or not you actually know them. I think everyone can relate to talking to two of your friends online that you met (IRL) or online. Then switching the way to chat depending on different factors. The thing to remember is that identity plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives and this film is one of the most relateable out there. Because whether online or offline everyone has had to be a different person. As for video game culture, I am definitely part of that one. The major connection I think is that, again, like YouTube a video game is broken up into smaller parts to allow a user to play them without having to set aside the entire day. Besides lets be honest that weird, crazy, wacky bang-bang-whoop-do scene with the demon and snake succubus is totally about the weird s**t on the net.
June 23rd, 2014 at 6:55 am
Thanks for specifically talking about how the film reflects internet culture, Nick. Great point about how YouTube is basically a forum for individual scenes and short films. In a lot of ways, the process of watching HOLY MOTORS feels like surfing YouTube.
June 22nd, 2014 at 4:33 pm
Is Holy Motors a comedy, a fantasy, or a mystery? The film begins in a hotel room which resembles a cruise ship, containing a secrete room giving us the impression that we are watching a movie within a movie, or are we really searching for a life within a life. The film is a parody consisting of nine separate events which could not have possibly occurred during the course of a single day. Monsieur Oscar and Celine, his chauffeur and personnel secretary are in search of something none of us will ever discover—the meaning of life! Is it possible Oscar was a hit man, a tycoon, a beggar, a loving father, or a Casanova in a past life? We’ll never know.
We do know Oscar fails to come to terms with the present. Oscar is skeptical of the virtual world and refuses to deal with contemporary society even though he contemplates the possibility of communicating electronically with the rich and famous who reside at the Pere Lachase. Holy Motors transports us and all of their clients to another world—a world which we will never be able to completely comprehend.
Ironically, Carax utilizes the same technology which he despises to connect the audience to the past. Carax’s acceptance of the spiritual and rejection of the virtual exemplify the intergenerational drift in Western society. French directors more often contemplate philosophical issues prevalent in everyday life and utilize film as an art form to express a subject from a moral perspective than their American counterparts.
We can identify with many of Carax’s eccentric characters because they represent real people. Therefore, we become more interested following the sequence of events in Oscar’s life because we are never really certain if they are actually taking place or if they are a figment of our imagination. Experiencing Oscar’s adventures traveling through the streets of Paris allows us to question the meaning of our own very own existence.
June 23rd, 2014 at 6:58 am
I’m glad you mentioned being able to “identify” with Carax’s eccentric characters, Brad. As strange as the film is, I agree that it is also highly emotional and contains a lot of psychological truths.
June 22nd, 2014 at 7:14 pm
Holy Motors was very weird, yet strangely entertaining. It’s definitely on the list of weird films I’ve watched in this class. Because it was so weird, I found it to be a bit distracting to what the film was trying to portray. Besides that, the film kept my interest throughout the entire thing and had me anticipating what weird thing was going to happen next.
For example, the motion-capture scene started off really cool and quickly grabbed my attention, but as soon as things got weird I was instantly confused. I found myself asking “why” a lot during the film. I understand that each appointment had a deeper meaning to them, but for some I couldn’t see what it was trying to get across to the audience.
Another example is the last appointment, when Oscar returned home to his “family” which turned out to be monkeys. I guess if you looked at it as if it was symbolizing evolution it would make sense, but why include it in the first place?
Not all appointments where just weird. For example the appointment with Oscar and “his daughter” seemed the most realistic. The way Oscar acted towards his daughter showed the audience that even as a actor, he can relate to the audience.
I did like the film, I just felt like it was all over the place. I found the film entertaining, not so much by the story, but mostly because it was weird. I find it difficult to look at film on a deeper level than what is shown.
June 23rd, 2014 at 7:04 am
Thanks, Melissa, for at least being honest enough to talk about the weirdness and “all over the place” nature of the film — though I would personally argue that the motion capture scene is one of the least weird in the film. It basically just shows how an animated film is made. I agree that the film often forces us to ask ourselves “why is this happening?” but I also think there is tremendous value in that in and of itself. Most films only want us to ask “what will happen next?”
June 22nd, 2014 at 7:28 pm
Holy motors is unlike any movie i have seen before, and i enjoyed it thoroughly. At first there is always a sense of mystery and confusion in the beginning, so many questions to be answered. Leos Carax takes us on a rollercoaster or emotions and tumbles that would make anyone question their own sanity. Is this a dream or reality? No matter how many questions a viewer might have it was quite an experience to watch this film. It really doesnt have a full story we dont know anything about the character his plays. It kind of makes you think of how we on a daily basis we change in different situations, we become someone different evertytime.
Locations were key to this movie, Monsieur Oscar was taken to 9 different locations and given instructions by his loyal limo driver Celine. Every location she took him on, he took on a different persona. Loved the scene with the troll and super model, where he kidnaps her and takes her back to his lair. Carax knew exactly what he wanted to say in this scene and knew how to say with body language. His whole acting style is so in tune with his whole body. Every actor has his own acting style and Carax was so passionately driven by every character that you forget who he was or what he is. Its like he becomes the character fully and unapologetic regarding who he offends. The nudity and the sex scenes were quite different from the films i have seen it shows a sort of avant garde approach to sex and what we think as sex. Also the scene when he goes to a building with an accordion and starts playing it so dramatically was hilarious and it made want to join them lol.
Every scene was so full of passion, you can tell that a lot of hidden meanings went into this film and he wanted his audience to understand how the director felt about technology and other issues that may be taboo.
The end with the Limos scene was pretty funny and kind of unexpected. It showed another side of the director that wanted to convey a message to his audience. Still at the end, we are left with unanswered questions. I guess he wanted to leave the ending with open interpretations to how his story ends.
June 23rd, 2014 at 7:08 am
I’m glad you brought up the accordion-jam scene, which I think is one of the most exhilarating in the film and really imparts a “you are there” quality (especially since the music is being played live and covered mostly in long takes), and also the final scene. The limos talking to one another is one of the most absurd moments in the film and therefore a perfect way for it to end.
June 23rd, 2014 at 12:51 am
When the movie first began I was trying to follow each and every scene hoping that I don’t miss out on an important link to help me understand the concept and reasoning behind this film. As the movie went on I became even more confused because in no way where the assignments related to each other. Even though the second the third assignments were really strange there were scenes that felt very endearing such as the one when the father is picking up his daughter from a party.
I felt this movie did not just have one single message to convey. It had many. One message that I found most logical to me was that throughout life, in society, we all have to play different roles and we must fulfill our roles with passion and determination to please others. We as humans also try to find a sense of satisfaction in who we are, our identity and during this process we ironically loose ourselves, who we really are.
I believe the symbolism was very original. It was a great way to show what technology has come to or what it might lead to one day. This movie gets me thinking to how detached we have become to the simple pleasures in life. I intend to watch other films Mr. Carax has made. I truly enjoyed watching this movie it was refreshing.
~ Rachel Rana
June 23rd, 2014 at 3:49 am
Holy Motors was a great movie! Definitely a film I need to revisit eventually. Leos Carax does an excellent job at keeping the entire film interesting to watch. That being said, how else can I describe the film besides being a perpetual mindf***? Just when you think you have clarity on a situation, it transitions into the next scene, ready to be completely dissected once more.
One of my favorite scenes is the “troll” scene. What is there not to like about a classic “beast steals beauty” situation? One of the things that made this scene special was how calm, obedient, and trusting the stolen model acted. She seemed to empathize with the beast, almost as if understanding his behavior. Perhaps his eating of the flowers has to do with his desire to become one with beauty, as he also ate strands of the model’s hair. OR maybe Carax is making a statement on society as a whole, specifically the obsession with beauty, money, and consuming. The beast also had a fixation/obsession with smoking cigarettes (I believe it’s the only scene in which Monsieur smokes). I’m not entirely sure what to take away from that.
Thinking about globalization as a key factor in the movie almost gives a new perspective. Carax did an excellent job on capturing certain moments and situations of life that people all over can relate to. Referring back to the “troll” scene, this can be a metaphor of how people may go through phases of not loving themselves and viewing themselves as different or disgustingly horrifying. Society, again, may also play a large role in someone’s image.
A scene I view as powerful is the “assassination of Theo”. After watching Monsieur track down Theo in the warehouse with his switchblade in hand, his intentions are clear. After stabbing Theo in the neck and watching him struggle on the ground, Monsieur begins to dress Theo in exactly the same outfit he is wearing, as well as giving him matching hair, facial hair, and scars. Eventually, Theo swings the same knife he was stabbed with into Monsieur’s throat. They lay next to each other for a moment, bleeding and looking like doppelgangers. This struck me strongly, as the potential meaning could be that when people kill others it’s a devastation because really, they’re no different from one another. Also that the struggle ended with two people being stabbed when no one had to be stabbed in the first place.
Another scene I found interesting was when Monsieur ran into his old friend, Jean. After 20 minutes of catching up, they part ways as to get to their own appointments on time. After Monsieur sneakily escapes the building after Jean’s co-actor arrives, he is en route to his limo. It then shows Jean laying down on the concrete with her head bleeding, seemingly after jumping off the roof. Monsieur is visibly and audibly upset. I wonder if he was acting or showing his true emotions?
Overall, I enjoyed the film and greatly appreciate the grand ambiguous-ness of it.
June 23rd, 2014 at 3:49 am
June 23rd, 2014 at 12:45 pm
Holy Motors was a very interesting film, and for me, especially because I love french film making and French films, it was even more so of a treat. Being a fluent french speaker, it was interesting enough just to listen to the dialogue of the film and the interactions between all the characters. In certain scenes where there was very little if not any dialogue, (the cgi scene, the monster scene, etc.) were extraordinary in that they cut away from the film’s more linear progression and just completely charted new territory, showing that the point of the film was to create almost mini-episodes of Oscar, each one showing him doing his part as an actor, and the consequences thereafter.
The impression I had when the film was over was that, each Oscar went to one of his “appointments”, each time he had to play a role, it really took a piece of him with it. When the older man appeared in his limo in the middle of the movie, I think it was to show just how exhausting and energy-consuming it is to be all of these “people”. Oscar does it for “the beauty of the act” though, saying that as if its the only thing he can remember as a reason to why he does what he does. Clearly, he dives into the roles, each character with a full set of makeup and prosthetics, but also an entirely different sway and posture, movement and disposition. That’s what makes the film so fascinating to watch, is the fact that we the audience are looking for the true Oscar to reveal himself as one of his characters, but we find the truth to be that in fact, the only times he seems to be himself are when he is preparing for his next role in the limousine.
I think it was a very interesting introspective piece, and that Carax wanted to use a plethora of issues to insert into the film to capture and keep our attention, so as not to lose us (like in the beginning of the film, with the audience in a dead-lock slumber, un-moving and non-responsive) and to also reveal his thoughts on man, his quest for identity, and how inter-twined certain events and certain people can be, to create some larger meaning or purpose, instead of viewing the world with each isolated being.
June 23rd, 2014 at 1:03 pm
Great review. I as well believe that one must be very tolerant to enjoy seeing a single actor play many roles/scenes in a single movie. Especially given the fact that the movie is a little odd compared to what Hollywood got us used to. I believe the movie is a great representation of what the world looks like today and i think that it wouldn’t be as credible if it had been made before today and the 21st century overall. The first scene for example shows how ignorant people became. They don’t recognize those in need. No one bothered to help the old lady and it is seen across the world on a daily basis. People are too greedy i must say. The next few scenes show us how weird and eccentric we’ve all become in some ways. How our weird actions are now seen as normal and something every one is keen on doing. At one point in the limousine, (where he is most true to himself), he admits he misses the forest. the world became so industrialized and technologically advanced that we became lazy and don’t even have the time to admire nature because we rather do that on the internet. Internet and tv replaced our true nature and gave us a fake one. I can relate to it because i as well take my laptop and all my electronic gadgets when i go on vacation or camping instead of just enjoying the nature and isolating myself from the internet or social media. This movie made me realize that i miss nature as well. As weird as the movie was, it made me open up my eyes a little more on different cultures and ideas. You can say that i became a little bit more open minded. The director made an amazing job.
January 20th, 2015 at 9:55 am
[…] Leos Carax’s first feature film after a 13-year absence was this funny, strange, joyous, heartbreaking, beautiful and difficult to describe experience — an exhilarating, hallucinatory journey concerning a man named Oscar (the great, ridiculously expressive Denis Lavant) who finds himself, for reasons never explained, embodying eleven different avatars over the course of one long day. Whisking him from one “appointment” to the next is an elderly female chauffeur named Celine (an enchanting Edith Scob), and their warm-hearted bond perfectly balances out the moodier aspects of Carax’s eulogy for what he sees as the end of our era of “large visible machines.” Out of all the great movies I’ve seen in the 2010s, none has struck me as more deeply personal (nor more embarrassingly private — it was dedicated to Carax’s girlfriend, the actress Katarine Golubeva, who committed suicide shortly before production began, an event that is symbolically recreated in the film). Although Carax may not care about aggressively courting critics or even audiences, he still believes, like a child, that movies are magic. I defy you to watch this film and not believe it too. Full review here. […]
November 17th, 2016 at 12:20 am
In my opinion, this movie was very different. At first I didn’t know what to make of it and I was’t sure what the whole point of this was. Now I have my own inferences that I would like to share with you. I thought this movie was showing how the modern film industry works. This film showed us how animated video games and movies were made. They showed us how actors, actresses, and models would have to change their costume and avatar in a car while going to their next assignment. It showed us how committed drivers are to their master. They would risk their life just to help their master.
This movie also showed us how common people are changing into different characters at every point of their life. In this film, Oscar changed into nine different avatars. This is also true for us because we also change into different people depending on where we go. At home, we are brothers or sister, sons or daughters, in school we are students, and with friends we are just friends. This movie shows an exaggerated version of that.
Although this movie is really hard to understand the first time you watch it, you would really have to think about what’s happening the day after. Going back and thinking about this movie made me realize that even though the director might not even have thought about his perception of the movie, I still feel this way.
November 20th, 2016 at 8:23 pm
Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2011) is a master piece. The more you examine its meaning, the more complex it becomes. All the scenes are unrelated, unique, and play an equal part on creating the movie. I think that Holy Motors tries to show the world, a complex and always changing world (Constant evolution). We are wrong to think that we have complete control in life. What is today may not be tomorrow. For example the limo scenes were talking about being junked when now long ago engines replaced horses. We live in a fast paced world. As for humans, we could go from civil to wild, blood thirty animals. In a few weeks without food or in a few seconds of anger a human could become a beast.
November 22nd, 2016 at 2:55 pm
Glad you enjoyed it but this response is a bit too slight. 8/10
November 20th, 2016 at 9:55 pm
This film…both bizarre and intriguing. I was repulsed at moments, but I couldn’t take my eyes away. I was not ready for what this film was about to show me. I both loved it and hated it, it’s nothing like the films I’ve seen. I loved how the film began, it felt like the perfect way to start it off. I especially liked that it was the director himself starting it off as if it was a “welcome to what’s in my mind” or “welcome to my world” sort of vibe. The characters for the appointments that Carax thought up ranged from freakish to normal. We saw a erotic sex scene with 2 people in morph suits and then later we saw him playing the dad figure which seemed almost too normal. The appointment that caught my attention was the troll. He’s speed walking everywhere, eating everything he can. Then bites off a woman’s fingers and kidnaps a supermodel. What was strange was how the supermodel was totally down for it. This kind of plays into the idea that everyone was on an appointment. Maybe that was the role she was supposed to play. Also the fact that there were those two men in the beginning to assist the old beggar women gives the idea that everyone was on a appointment as well, I mean why else would they be there? Then again at the end we had Celine herself put on a mask. I get that this is a connection to another movie, but what if that was her next appointment to go to. Celine and Mr. Oscars relationship was comforting almost. They live these strange lives but in the limo they are themselves. We can tell that they care about each other and besides all the appointments they really are friends. The scene that perfectly shows this was at the end of the night when they crack a stupid joke and have one last laugh before the night is up. They accept each others weirdness. Anyway props to you Smith for showing one of the strangest things I have ever seen. I appreciate it’s uniqueness. I would definitely watch this film again.
November 20th, 2016 at 10:55 pm
Holy Motors is a distinctive film in the sense that it reflects a very dreamlike, almost nightmarish quality. The film has many random, fantastical aspects to it and flows together in a paradoxical way that shouldn’t make sense but does – just like a dream. One of its most striking characteristics is Mr. Oscar’s constant switching of roles. He dons a number of costumes over the course of the film and transforms into different individuals with varying roles. These roles highlight the mysterious and strange quality of the film in general – Mr. Oscar’s transformation from an old beggar woman to an underground monster and finally a man with a family of chimps showcases the cinematic power of a costume and makeup. There’s also a deeper meaning that lies within these role changes: the idea that we are always changing our behavior and persona depending on the situation. Most people aren’t who you perceive them to be, at least not initially.
I definitely agree that the film offers a commentary of the modern world and its obsession with technology. Mr. Oscar’s regret-filled monologue about the decreasing size of cameras and the conversation between the limousines emphasizes the idea that technology is becoming increasingly pervasive. The limousine conversation in particular shows how the line between man and machine is often blurred. Holy Motors also touches upon the issue of terrorism in the modern world in the scene where the beautiful model is kidnapped and subjugated by the sewer monster. The scene essentially shows the fear people often hold about entities like ISIS taking control over their lives.
In general, this film is clearly a cinematic masterpiece. Its abrupt change of scenes and nonsensical elements make the film both extraordinarily unlike any other film most people have seen and richly entertaining.
November 21st, 2016 at 4:03 pm
Holy Motors was a weird and very hard film to understand what was happeneing but I do feel like Carax made a master piece movie. After watching the movie we have to think strongly and make sense of what we just saw because the scenes are unrelated to each other and very unique by themselves. I believe that Holy Motors tries to show how crazy the world really is and how other people we don’t know might live such a strange life compared to ours. I loved the film but at the same time hated the film because it was such a master piece and was so different from all the other films that just grabbed my attention and wanted to know what other crazy scene was coming up next, the movie was so unpredictable. I hated the film because it was so hard to understand what was happening as we watched it. Also because the scenes were all so different from each other and didn’t know how they related to each other to make a story plot. A scene that had me mind blown was the scene with the two snakes and how Mr. Oscar and that girl were so weird, it just had me really thinking about what the hell was happening. Sometimes it was hard to tell if he was in his next appointment or whether he was faking things or actually acting for his appointment. I simply feel like Carax is trying to show the everyday life that people have to go through. They have to be acting someone there not in the real world as there going on with there life and interacting with strangers we have never seen. I’m still trying to make sense of other things or messages that Carax might be sending from the film Holy Motors.
November 21st, 2016 at 6:00 pm
Holy motors is an incredibly confusing movie. Not confusing in a frustrated means, but more like a curiosity confusing. I personally became extremely curious from the beginning of the movie trying to spot anything that could help me to understand the movie more. However, in the micro sense, nothing really added up. It wasnt until the view of the big picture once the movie ended that you can actually come up with a reasonable theory to explain the movie. For me, I saw it as we live our lives day by day jumping in and out of character in what seems like a never ending movie. Also, that jumping out of character still leaves you with the emotion from it. All in all I found this movie extremely entertaining and would recommend for others to watch as well, and then laugh as they are left utterly confused.
November 21st, 2016 at 8:26 pm
Holy Motors was nothing like i ever watched. It was very mysterious ans very confusing. I the scene where Mr. Oscar wears a motion capture suit on his second appointment. He played a sex scene with a woman in a red suit to create movements of two giant snake like creature. It was fun to see that because he is acting to be this creature when he is already acting to be a different person. Its like a acting x 2. What I also like in this film is Celine the limo driver. I think she is the characted that many many peaple can relate to. Like have to be at work earlier than her boss. It looked like what she was doing easy but it’s actually difficult and hard to do so everyday. At the end Mr. Oscar and Celine was laughing and joking aroung. So good for them
November 21st, 2016 at 11:33 pm
Holy motors was a totally different experience for me. It takes time to get use to the concept of this film. At first I thought it was a really weird movie but as I got familiar with the concept, I was looking forward to the next act. By the time movie ended I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I really liked the sequence right after the interval where Mr. Oscar plays a character of an accordionist. Music was another thing that I really loved about this movie. This movie ends in the same way it started, with Mr. Oscar continuing with his ‘appointments’. In a way suggesting that life keeps going.
November 22nd, 2016 at 12:29 am
The French film Holy Motors was directed by Leos Carax in the year 2011 and was an official selection to the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2012. Well that was as good of a sound on introducing the film to you, because after that, it is pretty much a “What the Fuck” kinds of moments. The movie is mainly lead by one man with different personalities for each character (not a bipolar); an explanation is not given as to why he does this, it is left all to the viewers of the film for interpretations. There are nine appointments that the character named Oscar, played by acrobatic actor Denis Lavant, goes to and each appointment is held in different places that metaphorically represents today’s world or views.
A “What the Fuck” moment is first shown in the beginning of the film, with Oscar being in a hotel room at the airport, he then notices a door and decides to unlock it with a key that somewhat looked like a biologically attached object in his hand, and then finds himself in a movie theater – which for me represents the different appointments, being that there are all movies – Each appointment serves as a representation of the actions humans take or whatever is going on in today’s world, for example, in appointment 4 with the monster, Oscar kidnapped Kay M, played by actress Eva Mendes, but as Oscar was taking Kay M away, the photographer was still taking pictures, which is what is being done today, we see someone in a horrible situation and then we live tweet it or live stream it, rather than stop what we are doing and actually do help. A favorite scene of mine is the musical part, when Oscar was playing the accordion and a band came behind him playing different kinds of musical instruments, because I felt that it was a rebellion against the church; sort of like I am going to do whatever I want even though it may go against the teachings, the reason why I felt like it was a rebellion, because of the type of music they were playing, instead of gospel, they played rock music.
One fantastic thing about the movie is that it correlates to the past movies and shows I have seen; when Oscar was in the limousine and was talking to a man of what seemed like his boss or the “producer” had a conversation about if Oscar still has it, cameras are getting smaller and lighter and not being able to see them; it reminded me of the television show called The Big Brother, because in that show cameras are hidden behind the mirrors and there are small cameras hidden in every corner of the house. The 1998 movie called The Truman Show had correlations to Holy Motors in a sense that Truman Burbank wakes up everyday with the same routines, until he finally wakes up to the truth, somewhat the same to Holy Motors, because after the ninth appointment, Oscar wakes up again and goes for another appointment, until hopefully he or us the viewers wakes up to whatever we have to wake up to – perhaps the truth – Also a cool juxtaposition of both films is that in Holy motors, Oscar knows what is going on and what is to happen next, while the viewers of the film does not know what exactly is going to happen next, whereas in The Truman show, Mr. Burbank does not know the truth, but his viewers knows that it is all fake. Another great thing is that even though there are a lot of “What the Fuck” moments in the movie, the film was still successful in capturing scenes that were considered elegance classiness feeling to it, like the shot of Eva Grace, played by singer/actress Kylie Minogue, and Oscar in an abandoned building singing a song in the staircase and with the classic background music.
Therefore in conclusion, the movie Holy Motors may come of as what kind of shit is this for the first couple of minutes you watch it, but as you just keep an open mind, you will begin to understand why this film is made in the first place, perhaps to spoon feed to us of what has become of us human beings and the things around us, since the virtual world plays a chunk of our day to day lives, a humorous example from film to reality is of the websites on the tombstones when Oscar was in the cemetery, because it reminded me of some things I see in different countries doing what you call an “e-burol,” meaning an online live streaming of the funeral for those who cannot come to the service, because their are far away and may be because their in a different country and it is expensive to fly home. As to why limousines would play such a role in the movie I don’t know, was my initial thought when I saw the poster picture of the film, but then director Leos Carax deciphered it more clearly, he stated, “for Holy Motors one of the images I had in mind was of these stretch limousines that have appeared in the last few years. I first saw them in America and now every Sunday in my neighborhood in Paris for Chinese weddings. They’re completely in tune with our times — both showy and tacky. They look good from the outside, but inside there’s the same sad feeling as in a whores’ hotel. They still touch me, though. They’re outdated, like the old futurist toys of the past. I think they mark the end of an era, the era of large, visible machines.” (Leos Carax)
November 22nd, 2016 at 12:15 pm
The best part about Holy Motors was that watching it was an entirely new film experience. Nothing is as expected. It’s both illogical and perfectly logical at the same time. I remember sitting during his second appointment in his motion capture suit and he starts doing his fight scene choreography and I’m like “okay” and then it takes a hard left turn into a CGI snake sex scene with the contortionist. And that’s what I loved about this film. Every time I thought I grasped what the film was going to to next, it took a left turn away from my expectations.
What struck me was the layers in the film. In the scene with the model and Mr. Oscar dressed as the monstrous leprechaun, the photographer pushed towards a “Beauty and the Beast” kind of symbolism. But then Mr Oscar when wild, and kidnapped his beauty. And then in changing her dress from the showy western fashion gown into a burka it also spoke to different ideals. And what struck me the most, at the end of that scene as she sings to him, she pulls back the face veil and he places his head on her lap, making an image similar to the Pieta. The classic musical intermission becoming it’s own fantastic scene in and of itself is one of my favorites.
This is a movie that keeps me guessing as to what it’s trying to say. And I love it because it can be unique to each viewer. Could it be a strange alternate reality where tv shows and movies are shot this way, as almost a reality show? Who else in any of these scenes is an “actor” like Mr. Oscar? Who runs the Holy Motors? Their unknown purpose haunts me, as it should.
November 22nd, 2016 at 1:25 pm
Holy Motors is by far the most bizarre movie ive ever seen. There is literally no plot and absolutely nothing makes sense. Oscar, the main character, goes from appointment to appointment but each one is like a different movie. The movie is very hard, in my opinion, to keep up with. This movie is more confusing than the last two seasons of Lost. The movie is also a bit hard to follow because it literally keeps you in the dark. The movie is filled with many dark, low-lit scenes. From what I’ve noticed in the movie, I came to the conclusion that the main character of the overall movie, Oscar, plays the role of a movie actor in the film. At one point, he was in the car and there was another guy in it too. Then the guy asked Oscar if he still enjoys his job and being in front of cameras. Then oscar said something about how cameras used to be heavier than they are, then they were the size of their heads, and now they are almost invisible. So that leads me to think that every appointment he has is actually a scene shot for a different movie in the movie; movieception.
November 22nd, 2016 at 1:35 pm
This movie was one of the most intriguing films that I have seen in a long time. Holy Motors is a one of a kind film that can give the viewer infinite messages about the world that we live in. The film was as random as can be, while it still cleverly connecting the main character and his limo driver to each scene. One thing I noticed was that each setting of the film offered something unique in terms of perspective on people’s behavior ( everybody acted in ways that are not normal in our day to day life). For example you had the monster character, biting and tasting everything in sight. These scenes of the movie were surprisingly entertaining for me because I had not seen people display these types of behaviors in my life. Whatever the main character experiences, its almost as if I experience it while watching this movie. That has made it really great for me.
November 22nd, 2016 at 2:11 pm
Trying to put into words how this film made me feel is easy and hard. There were times when I was speechless and then I had soooo many thoughts going through my head. This film was very fucked up, but there were points in it that were enjoyable. I really didn’t want to stop watching it, I wanted it to keep going, because I felt that Mr. Oscar could become really anyone and I wanted to see what other appointments he had to do. When you say blow your minds I feel that is true because this movie really did blow my mind there is just so much going on and it’s like another movie is about to happen. Each appointment is like a whole other movie we are about to watch. It’s like a bunch of short YouTube clips made in to a film. There really isn’t a plot and it keeps you on your toes trying to figure it out, but your just supposed to take it in and not figure it out. The scene that stood out to me the most was with Eva Mendes and him being the leprechaun. That would be like one of my worst nightmares, and seeing that come to life really got to me.
November 22nd, 2016 at 2:13 pm
Holy Motors seems to be one of those films that you have to look past what you see on screen to understand the message hidden underneath. It’s one of those movies that you have to keep an open mind throughout the entirety of Mr. Oscars (Denis Lavant) strange work day. Unfortunately, as much as I tried to like, or at the very least understand Holy Motors, I couldn’t find any sort of reasoning for the complete randomness of the film. I actually wouldn’t say that I disliked the film, there were some parts that stood out as interesting and funny had they been there own standalone short films. I think the culmination of the almost completely unrelated scenes made it hard to piece together any sort lesson or meaning.
November 22nd, 2016 at 2:36 pm
This film is very bizarre, but I respected it for that reason. The film maker took an idea he had, and very creatively twisted it and created something different and abnormal. I like the fact that it goes against the “traditional” Hollywood film, and it is creative and different than anything I’ve seen before. The opening scene fit so well with the film. It starts off with an audience sitting in a theatre. This entire film is about actors fulfilling roles so the setting fit perfectly. I also found it interesting that the filmmaker himself was in the opening scene, and he uses his finger, that had a key attached to it, to open a door, as if opening the door to a different world, his world and his perception of life. I liked that you would never know what would happen next, it made the film more interesting and intriguing. However, beyond all the chaos, there were many messages that were hidden behind the reasoning of the events that took place. The fact that Oscar had to fulfill so many different roles and parts may represent all the different personalities someone may have depending on the person, place or situation. I connected this with my own life, and it made me actually think about “who am I really?” There were scenes where I would be confused about whether or not he was fulfilling a role, like when he picked up his “daughter” from the party and scolds her. It seemed like it was genuinely him, but the only time we really get to see Oscar’s true personality is when he meets with his old lover. But, I thought the connection between Celine and Oscar was the most pure. They genuinely cared for each other, like when she would warn him about his health and how he should be eating, she was actually concerned for him. Even though they share a job to fulfill, they do truly care about each other and established a friendship. Overall, I will never truly understand the meaning of the film, but it allows the audience to create their own ideas about it. The strangeness of the film will make me never forget it. I did really enjoy watching it, and I would recommend it.
November 29th, 2016 at 1:58 pm
This movie was… very different. It is different from what we are use to seeing. I couldn’t really pick up on what the movie was about or what message he was trying to send. At first I thought that he was a father of a family and he was an actor that took all kinds of jobs to help support his family, the kids even say “work hard daddy”. But at the end he ends up at a different house with some monkeys, so was the beginning family his real one or were they all actors. And to make it all worse at the end the cars started talking to each other. Which made me question myself again. was the movie about the cars or the actors.
Towards the end of the movie he met this other actor that he might have had feelings for or had a relationship with at one point. He wanted to be with her, but they both knew that they couldn’t. Some of these acting jobs that he took were a bit strange and I am surprised that he would do them. Which got me thinking, there are probably scenes like that here in America and people actually take them. But why? Some of them look really uncomfortable and bizarre. Like the scene with the other women in the black room. I guess that you have to do what you gotta to do make it big in the movie industry.
November 29th, 2016 at 2:13 pm
“Holy Motors” was a very weird and hard to understand what the meaning behind this film was. From the very beginning where there was a shot of the audience looking at a stage but then it goes straight to Oscar sleeping on a twin bed with a dog laying on the side of him. He gets up and looks through a hole through the door that he walks through and ends up on the balcony of the theater looking down at the people there. He starts his day, gets ready and then leaves for work… as he walks outside his kids scream bye and tell him to have a good day but Mr. Oscar doesn’t even look up. He has a limo driver that help him stay on track with his “meetings” that he has throughout the day. However, I’m confused why they are called meetings because his first stop was very strange. He looked over his file and the limo is filled with a bunch of stuff including different clothes and wigs. So when he gets out at his first destination, he is dressed as an old lady that’s begging for change. Then he moves on to his second destination that consist of him dressing up and ends up in a dark room in which he starts doing acrobats… These chain of events keep happening throughout the film leaving me clueless about what was the real meaning behind this movie.
November 29th, 2016 at 2:14 pm
Yesnaya Toledo- Global Cinema
November 29th, 2016 at 2:14 pm
Holy Motors… Where do I even begin? I enjoyed how different this film was. Admittedly, I did not quite grasp all of it. Nonetheless, it was entertaining. I wrote down some notes about what I thought each of the scenes was trying to convey, so I’ll share some of those here.
Leprechaun Monster Scene – When he was eating the flowers and money, I thought about how people are always hungering for beauty and money… And how they can never get enough of it.
Dad/Daughter Scene – I feel like he gets so mad at her because she was pretending to be someone else. Yes, he is mad at her for lying,but I think the scene says more about her if we don’t feel adequate (i.e. hiding in the bathroom) we pretend to be someone else – and the internet/social media is the most accessible way we have had to do this.
Murder Scene – When they are both lying on the floor after shooting each other, and they both look the same, I thought how neither man was better or worse than the other. They both committed murder. Also, in death we are all the same.
Dying Man Scene – This was my favorite scene. First of all I love the quote where he responds to a question about death: “Death is good, but there’s no love”. But beyond the surface, I love what this scene says about the interactions in our lives with strangers. Although these actors were strangers, they really shared something in that moment. I think these kinds of fleeting moments and people in our life are so important. It is so vital to realize the significance of these moments. Life is short (he’s dying) and we should value every moment we can.
July 25th, 2019 at 3:23 pm
This movie has Oscar performing several appointments or scenes. There are reasons a person would want to see each of these scenes, and one of my many theories about this movie is that the agency hires these actors to do things. I, as Selene will take on the role of the movie’s Celine and explain these bits to you.
Scene 1 the beggar: this is shallow, but someone may want to give to a begging elder in that particular place at that particular time to look good for someone they’re with.
Scene 2 animation studio: someone hired Oscar to do motion capture work for an animated film
Scene 3 the graveyard and sewer: The intern must have pissed someone off so her fingers were bitten off by Oscar, and then Oscar dragged the model back to the sewers and dressed her as another culture’s kind of model for a change of pace and an escape from her minutia. Was the end where the model seems to accept Oscar out of Stockholm syndrome? Or did she actually plan for such an encounter?
Scene 4 driving a young woman home: Oscar berated the young lady in a very strange way for a father. This commission may have come from this woman’s boyfriend or her own desire to be badgered for hiding in the bathroom at a party
Scene 5 accordions: They needed someone else to play accordion, perhaps to lead them. perhaps a temp.
Scene 6 gangster on gangster violence: to kill a gangster and to make him look like you could be to fake his own death and kill his enemy. also it was comedic to have both men who look the same lying on the ground together, people pay to see comedy.
Scene 7 banker at a cafe: someone wanted that banker dead, and Oscar obliged the client
Scene 8 dying uncle: at first it seems as if the niece wants closure she didn’t get for not being with her uncle in his final moments. then at the end, when Oscar leaves, they are both very cordial and seem to have other appointments. someone else wanted to see that closure happen, or it could just be the actress’s personal vanity project.
Scene 8.5 (or 9) meeting an old friend: another time for closure, or just an update on how both adrift actors are doing. Maybe some viewers hired them to give more context to the film.
Scene 9 going home to primates: Some people like to see the comedy of a domestic interaction of man and his more primitive form. Like in scene 8, this ties into another one of my theories of this movie too. in the beginning of the film, Oscar leaves his house as a considerably rich man. Here, he is dropped at a much smaller house with a different family. Maybe how well you do each day determines what you are left with at night. Perhaps the manager with the scar on his eye intimated Oscar’s performances on the day we watched him were poor compared to the previous day.
July 28th, 2019 at 10:42 am
Holy Motors was successful in evoking feelings and emotions from me, though at times felt more ostentatious than revolutionary, in my opinion. Perhaps I lacked the backstory necessary to fully comprehend and appreciate this “personal and deeply felt” film, but I found myself feeling more puzzled and uncomfortable than pensive over the strange vignettes that make up this film. The quotes you provided from Carax helped me analyze certain parts of the movie to understand what the director was attempting to convey, but I think the ideas are not fleshed out enough to be truly meaningful because of the rapid pace of the movie. I believe Holy Motors is best viewed as art, which inspires the beholder to think and react, as attempting to piece together its anti-narrative will drive one mad.
July 28th, 2019 at 7:47 pm
I must say I agree with your diagnosis that Carax is using this film as a way to voice his objections with the film industry’s use of ever more modern techniques. This idea is also supported by Lavant’s role as Carax’s alter ego. In the film, we know that Monsieur Oscar resents the fact that movie cameras are becoming smaller and smaller. He also says that he is tired. The first time being when he is running on the treadmill during the motion capture scene. The second, when he is talking with his boss in the limo. It would seem that Oscar is unhappy with the current state of his profession. But there is a moment at the end of the film, where Oscar is getting ready for bed with his chimpanzee family. They’re looking out the window when Oscar tells them that “good things are coming”. Perhaps Oscar is planning to take his talents down different avenues in the near future. And in turn, perhaps Carax as well. In any event, this was not like any film I have seen before, and while there were many WTF? moments, the film’s uniqueness and artistic expression cannot be denied.
July 29th, 2019 at 12:48 am
Holy Motors, more like holy $h!t
This is honestly everything I ever wanted in a movie but never thought possible. This movie is philosophical and psychological decadence served on a silver screen platter. The amount of meaning that can be derived from these acts in the film are so numerous that it has surpassed being a movie, but something akin to a painting in a museum. Where much like an abstract painting can be interpreted in multiple ways and probably hold true to some extent. But I believe the underlying message of this film is more a statement on human beings need to act out different roles, but also how an actor takes this concept even further and carries extra load of faces.
The main character’s name throughout the film is named Oscar. He is never addressed formally by his last name which is very strange even by his associates. I believe already this is a statement on him being an actor and he is defined by the likely hood of him winning on Oscar in the past and thus seen as simply an “Oscar”.
As Oscar is being chauffeured around to his “appointments” he is acting as someone different each time. Not as a stage role but as a new person entirely with their own story and motivations. Each of these scenes feel out of place as if you have been dropped into a different film. Each of these scenes also have different accompanying characters that also like Oscar make a statement. The director seems to want to say different things in each scene as if this is a slideshow of statements he wants to get across with a loosely constructive narrative connected by Oscar and the ‘Holy Motor the limo.
Just about every time Oscar comes back to his limo he has some sort of remnant of what his roll was, even after he takes off the prosthetics and makeup. A statement I believe means that we always carry the roles we play even if they are temporary.
There is also some consistent underlying message about the legacy we leave with each role we play. Oscar leaves an impression on every set and leaves his accompanying characters for that scene in a new direction. Very much like real life, our roll in the scheme of life does leave a mark. And once we leave our scene and our 5 seconds of fame our up the story continues with out us.
July 29th, 2019 at 8:00 am
I would almost agree with you that this movie was a 10,if it wasn’t for the sense of awkwardness from my classmates while watching the scene where minsoir oscar is having visual sex with the women in the red suit, and when minsoir Oscar strips down naked with the model. I agree with Carax meaning of the movie that We pretend
To be different people everyday. The example you given is perfect like the internet, we pretend a role to get back stratification. The visual and costumes were very outstanding, it was something I have never seen before. Weirdly enough I would recommend this movie to someone else, it is different from most movies.
December 23rd, 2019 at 9:51 am
[…] “In this most kaleidoscopic of films, Carax frequently intertwines his feeling for beauty with a singularly pungent melancholy and, far from coming off like the novelty it might have in lesser hands, it ends up packing an emotional wallop.” Full White City Cinema review here. […]