What movie was that...?

08 April 2013

Holy Motors

directed by Leos Carax

It’s a hell of a ride to be sure, but I gladly followed Leos Carax’s mesmerizing Holy Motors along its bizarre and wonderful journey, stopping throughout to drink in the decadence, despair and dreaminess of it all. We snobbish faux film scholars could spend days dissecting this film to death, but why? Why would we possibly want to dim the glow of such a treasure with dull analyses, with banal insights? At its most basic, Holy Motors is a glimpse of the artist’s mind, of what it means to create and to be haunted by worlds half-formed, to track and net such nebulous and flighty things. It is also a celebration of movies and storytelling, of the magic of escape. Carax invites (or coaxes) us inside his brain via main character Oscar (the always astounding Denis Lavant), who quite literally becomes many different people as he is driven around Paris. A gypsy beggar woman, a crazed assassin, a subterranean scavenger, a depressed father, and many more (all played by Oscar) coalesce into a kind of tableau of moments that, had they been part of larger narratives, would be the ones that crystallize and, preserved, drift immutably through time. Crystallize they do all the same, and that is in no small way thanks to the heaven-made match of Carax and Lavant. They seem to speak a language all their own, endeavoring to drill to the core of whatever vignette they seek out. The film is beautifully shot, beautifully scored and beautifully beautiful (even when it’s ugly), but as with all art, it’s the feeling of it all that sticks with you. It’s a lonely business, crafting lives, building worlds, but with Holy Motors, Carax allows us to peer through the keyhole, if only for a short time.

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