Sunday, November 25, 2012

Review - Holy Motors (2012)

Starring Denis Levant, Edith Scob and Kylie Minogue.
Directed by Leos Carax.

I must say that Holy Motors left me somewhat baffled after first viewing. But after re-watching it, things really came together and I totally respect it for what it is - a work of art. This movie does not have a set storyline and it will come across as very bizarre to most audiences. Cinema is an art and it is truly beautiful.

The movie basically follows Oscar (Denis Levant) throughout the course of the day. He travels around in a stretch limosine with his assistant and driver Celine (Edith Scob) attending to "appointments". These arent your regular appointments however, we witness Oscar transform into various bizarre roles and personalities, as if he's filming individual movie scenes. He switches from role to role with ease and with little to no rest.

Denis Levant delivers a great and totally engrossing performance as Oscar. He is totally submerged in each role/scene to the point where you'll find it difficult to distinguish between what's real and what's fake. The whole movie felt like Oscar was being filmed but there were NO cameras present and that's one of the beauties of Holy Motors. None were present but in your mind, it's like the cameras are there. You can tell that the persons with whom he interacted with in each scene are also actors and are fully aware of what is going on. They themselves made it clear about their appointments. The weird opening scene of the movie comes back to mind when we saw a theater filled with people apparently watching a movie. Were they watching Oscar in his various roles and interactions? Perhaps. Holy Motors felt like I was watching behind the scenes filmmaking.

We follow this Oscar character all day but yet his identity still remains hidden. We dont know the real Oscar and we wont know at the end of the movie either. We just know he has a passion for cinema and he does a pretty good job in keeping us so engrossed with his performance. There were couple scenes that you'd think you'll see character development but it turns out to be just another one of Oscar's crazy appointments. How do you know that these appointments and roles are definitely cinema related? Well you'll see other characters resembling Oscar, you'll see shootings and stabbings but no one actually dies. The movie then continues into another one of Oscar's roles like nothing had happened before. It is clearly broughtforward that this is a job even though the reasons are never stated. In a conversation, we see Oscar and a strange man talking about cameras and how they have gotten smaller etc. I am led to believe that Oscar is also using security cameras as a somewhat window in showcasing and capturing his different roles performed. Impressive.

An outstanding attribute of Holy Motors is its breathtaking cinematography. Very vibrant and beautiful imagery. The rest of the cast was pretty solid even though the film mainly focuses on Oscar. Another aspect I also noticed about each role/appointment performed by Oscar is that they all seem to portray different genres of film. We see tragedy, we see romance, we see fantasy, we see animation, we see musical, we see drama and we also see crime thriller. Holy Motors is all of these put together, and then again, it is not.

There wasnt much background music but when there was, it was gleeful. Kylie Minogue's musical number and Oscar's instrumental scene provided a further soothing atmosphere to this strange film. This movie can probably be interpreted in other ways, but in my eyes this is a brave, very interesting and in depth look at the beauty of cinema through the eyes and performances of Oscar. So in depth and inventive, you'll be left questioning identity and reality from unreality.

Rating: 8.5/10

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