Overlooked Film of the Week- #5
When I look back at 2012, and I look at all the new releases that came with that year, one scene in particular jumps to mind. It wasn't seeing a team of superheroes I have grown to like over the years assemble to fight alien invaders, it wasn't a freed slave gun slinging through the wild south, and it wasn't the animated or live-action chicks with bows and arrows. My favorite scene from all the movies I saw last year came from a little French film nobody saw.
This scene is just one of the many wonders "Holy Motors" has to offer.
"Holy Motors" tells the story of...well...shoot...there is not a very easy way to finish that sentence. Some movies exist telling a specific story in a specific way. It has a clear beginning, middle and end, just like a novel. It works proactively to make its audience understand the story, the characters and why the events of the movie are taking place. Then there are movies that are not so black and white. These are movies which play on the emotions, intellect and artistry of the audience. Narrative structure, character development, story structure...it doesn't have to entirely make sense. Just as long as your audience is responding to it. "Holy Motors" is a film which exists in the latter category of movies, then takes that category to the extreme.
At the start of a film, a man in bed unlocks his wall with his finger. He then enters a theater full of people, and features a big dog walking down the aisle. The man looks at the screen and watches the film that follows. French actor Denis Lavant plays Mr. Oscar a man who spends his days going from set-piece to set-piece acting out certain "appointments." Through out the entire day (and throughout the entire movie) Mr. Oscar will appear as a beggar, a mocap actor, a monster, a killer, a protective parent, a dying father, a singer and few other weird roles. What does it all mean? What purpose does he serve? That is the mystery of "Holy Motors" and it isn't easily answered.
One may think that Mr. Oscar is in some kind of purgatory and it his way into heaven to act out these appointments. Or is Mr. Oscar just an actor performing an entire canvass of art? My two cents is that director Leon Carax put his own spin on how the public perceives actors. We see them as people acting in one movie to the next, just like Mr. Oscar moves from one appointment to the next. The typical actor never plays the same character twice, just like all of Mr. Oscar's appointments are not in sort of order or even relevance.
The film is surreal, beautiful and a dazzling dose of imagination. In my write-up of my "favorite films of 2012" on my Facebook, I described the film as "film cirque du soleil." "Holy Motors" is a movie that doesn't answer the questions. The films supreme goal is gain an emotional response from its audience. All I have to say to that is mission accomplished.
Most of the cast you wont recognize, except for Eva Mendez and Kyle Minogue, but everyone's work is solid. In a film as strange as this, the audience needs to believe in the characters. Otherwise this film would fall flat on its face. Everyone is very good in it.
I would invite all to seek out and try "Holy Motors." There is absolutely nothing else like it. Yes, its a foreign film with subtitles. Yes, the film is strung together like a cohesive narrative. The film is pure imagination, and it speaks of the world of imagination in cinema. It takes lots of creativity, thought and imagination just to get a movie made. And I think that is what director Leon Carax is channeling here. Don't let something like subtitles turn you off. There are just as many great voices from around the world as in America. I believe that each and every voice deserves to be heard. If you open your heart and mind, then there is no doubt in my mind that "Holy Motors" will be for you too.