DVD: Holy Motors | Film reviews, news & interviews
DVD: Holy Motors
'Cinema is dead' says Leos Carax's surreal trans-Paris odyssey - and 'Long live cinema!'
One of the triumphs of the decade so far, Leos Carax’s fifth feature, and his first since 1999’s Pola X, takes the form of a day-long limousine ride around a gloomy Paris. Before it starts, a dreamer (played by Carax himself) breaks through his apartment wall into a cinema and conjures into existence Mr Oscar (Denis Lavant once again playing the director’s alter ego), apparently a business tycoon who sets off in the morning to do his daily work of mastering the universe.
He soon casts off that guise. As he’s ferried from appointment to appointment by his elegant lady chauffeur (75-year-old Edith Scob), Oscar shapeshifts without explanation into such characters as a beggar woman, a motion-capture actor, a mutant terrorist (Mr Merde from Carax’s episode in Tokyo!) who kidnaps a model (Eva Mendes) and carries her off to a sewer, and a worried dad ticking off his daugher. He becomes the would-be assassin of the tycoon, a dying man, and a lover re-encountering his long-lost inamorata (Kylie Minogue channeling Jean Seberg). In the rousing entr’acte, Oscar morphs into a punk accordionist.
Suffused though it is with images of death, there are as many of rebirth
Holy Motors is a cineaste’s delight: a magpie's haul of allusions both fond and ironic. From Modern Times to Eyes Without a Face. From The Blood of a Poet to Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera. From Carax’s own Les Amants du Pont-Neuf to Pixar's Cars, no less.
Yet this avowed lament for film as a dying medium was photographed digitally, despite Carax’s detestation of the technology. And suffused though it is with images of death – gravestones with URLs, an unexpected suicide – there are as many of rebirth. The irony, of course, is that the cheapness of digital cinematography is likely to allow the commercially suspect Carax to make more movies that he would have otherwise been unable to. The next one can’t come too soon.
Subscribe to theartsdesk.com
Thank you for continuing to read our work on theartsdesk.com. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £2.95 per month or £25 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.
To take an annual subscription now simply click here.
And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a theartsdesk.com gift subscription?
Memories of the Holocaust, and Alfred Hitchcock's attempts to sum up its visual testimony
Charlie Lyne's enjoyable documentary celebrates the teen movie but lacks rigour
Human nature is tested to destruction in Alex Garland's Artificial Intelligence thriller
Chekhovian break-up hits higher-end Bolivian society, strangely compellingly
Period crime drama packs a quietly potent punch
Alain Robbe-Grillet's modernist, sadomasochist cinema games revived
Unenlightening day-in-the-life portrait of French national broadcaster Radio France
Vera Brittain's First World War memoir prettifies the pain
Oscar contender and sleeper success is whiplash-smart
Art-house blaxploitation with a surreal edge is seen in full after four decades
Who got tapped and sidelined in this year's Academy Award race
Clint gives a patriot super-soldier's view of Iraq, in a leanly effective combat film