Dir. Leos Carax
(2012, Not Rated, 115 minutes)
The French film Holy Motors is an intriguing head-scratcher, which assembles two hours worth of scenes into what never really amounts to a story. In such cases I try to search the incongruous images for evidence of a prevailing theme, common bonds, or unifying elements. Maybe they’re there, but I didn’t find any. So while many of the individual scenes are interesting, funny, or exciting, the film as a whole left me unsatisfied.
I don’t know what it’s about, so I’ll describe what I see. Denis Lavant stars as Mr. Oscar, who is driven around Paris by a chauffeur, Celine (Edith Scob). Over the course of one day, he will dress in costumes, wigs, and makeup to assume various identities that are assigned to him by an unknown controlling entity. He calls these “appointments.” But what is the purpose of these appointments, who is assigning them, and how did Mr. Oscar come into this line of work? We’re never told.
None of the assignments has an apparent objective. I was somewhat reminded of the TV series Dollhouse, in which young men and women were imprinted with different identities to meet clearly specified needs, but who or what is being served by Mr. Oscar playing an elderly beggar, a disapproving father, a deranged man who kidnaps a model (Eva Mendes), or a murderous man with a vendetta against, it appears, another version of himself. Kylie Minogue plays a woman in the same line of work, who sings her feelings, apropos of nothing.
The very last shot of the film is so absurd that I was delighted by the sheer wacko surprise of it. What does it all mean? I’d say your guess is as good as mine, but I don’t have a guess. Just a shrug and a sigh.