sat 01/11/2014

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!'

The mad Mr Merde: Denis Lavant channels Lon ChaneyArtificial Eye

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.

 

'Holy Motors' is a magpie's haul of allusions both fond and ironic

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