Holy Motors (2012)

Holy Motors

The man leaves his house in the morning. He walks down his driveway. There is a white limousine parked at the end. The driver is waiting for him. He enters the vehicle and the car departs for the man’s “assignment,” the first of nine for the day. And so this one-of-a-kind adventure begins…

Holy Motors is a bizarre movie. It debuted at Cannes last year to ecstatic responses. It is a movie for those who have an appetite for something different in their cinematic diet, something far from the Iron Man 3s and the The Hangover Part IIIs that rule the box office today. If you often leave your local theater wondering if it’s possible to make a wholly original film nowadays, then Holy Motors should be the next movie that you see.

Usually, films as experimental as this are boring and tedious. This one is not. Holy Motors has the ability to hold an eery spell over the audience. Fragments of story do exist, only each piece appears to be a part of a different puzzle. Throughout the entire film, I felt that if I had just been given a few more bits of information, then I would have made complete sense of it all. That is the film’s first major virtue: its vignettes are connected well enough to captivate us, yet Leos Carax, the director, continuously refuses to hand over simple answers to the audience.

The unbridled weirdness of Holy Motors might be polarizing for some. After all, every ambitious movie that pushes the boundaries of cinema has its critics. I’ll go ahead and put up a disclaimer: This film is not for everyone. Many may find that the surrealism prevents them from emotionally connecting to the story, which I can certainly understand and I admit that the film is not a movie that one can easily warm up to. I cannot promise that you will feel the same as I do, but I still thoroughly enjoyed Holy Motors and would be hard-pressed to find a more visionary achievement from 2012.

I would hate to reveal too much about the film, so I will leave you with this invitation from the movie’s website. Of course, if you’ve seen the film and want to discuss it in more detail, then simply leave a comment:

Join Monsieur Oscar on his rollicking, soulful journey by limousine through the streets of Paris as he transforms into multiple characters for a series of mysterious “appointments”. Melding monster movie, film noir, romantic drama, musical, crime thriller, anime, Léos Carax’s mirthful, mind-bending masterwork is a ravishing fever dream of becoming, unraveling and starting all over again.”


22 responses to “Holy Motors (2012)

  1. Ahhh, Holy Motors. Very nice review but I gotta say the film didn’t work for me. I found it became a pretty tedious exercise. Now some of the segments were pretty good (I absolutely loved the out-of-the-blue accordion jam in the church). But as a whole I just couldn’t latch onto this movie. That said, a lot of people have really appreciated it.

    • That accordion jam was awesome! 😀 Thanks for sharing. It’s just one of those films that you either connect to or you don’t. But whichever side you’re on, the film can still fuel some pretty interesting discussions about cinema, which is always a good thing.

  2. Great review mate. I’ve been slightly skeptical about seeing this one as I really have to be in the mood for something like this. Some people really do love it though which does make me want to see what the fuss is about.

    • Thanks. You really should plan on checking it out when you’re in the mood to see it. It’s just unlike anything you’ll ever see anywhere else.

  3. I need to see this movie!!! Carax was one of France’s up-and-comers in the early 90s, but fell through the net when everyone realised his movies were all style, no substance. This sounds like a treat though.

    • It is quite a treat. I read that Carax said that Holy Motors was made out of his frustration of not being able to make the films that he wanted. It seems as if he threw a little bit of all of his failed projects in here.

      • Awesome! Les Amants Du Pont Neuf, despite losing focus/message halfway through, is still an achievement IMO. I’m glad he’s got a success with this movie.

  4. I loved it! This made my Top 25 of 2012. And yes! This is originality at its best –such great statements about the “roles” we play and the “masks” we wear. Denis Lavant is brilliant!! It was shame he did not receive any acting nods.

    Great Review! 😀

    • I definitely agree with you. It’s a movie that can be analyzed and written about in-depth, but even in one viewing it is possible to detect its meaning. Lavant was great and deserved more awards attention. The film ranks among my top films of 2012 as well. Thanks!

  5. Sounds like people either love it or hate it. Those are the type of movies I truly look forward to. See which side I stand on. Nice review Garrett.

    • It is one of those films that seems to draw strong opinions from viewers. I’d love to hear what you make of it when you check it out. Thanks.

  6. Pingback: Movie Report Card: May 2013 | Cinema Train·

  7. “Many may find that the surrealism prevents them from emotionally connecting to the story, which I can certainly understand and I admit that the film is not a movie that one can easily warm up to.”

    Yeah, this encapsulates the film pretty well. Personally, I found it hugely affective after I “warmed up” to it (took about half an hour, I’d guess) – I was actually in tears towards the end of the film, and I can’t really explain why. But the weirdness of the whole definitely throw up a wall that requires some patience and effort to get through, and it isn’t going to resonate with everyone.

    Anyway, I thought this film was wonderful. Probably one of my favourite films of the last decade.

    • Agreed. It’s not for everyone, but those few who like it will probably really love it, like we did. Personally, I love surrealism in films. In certain ways, Holy Motors reminded me of something Bunuel would make, but it also has something else. It seems to have a more sentimental human element to it, while many of Bunuel’s films are usually mocking a certain class or group of people. I think that’s how it manages to draw an emotional response from some audiences, and that’s what makes Holy Motors fascinating and great.

  8. I’ll definitely be checking that one out – thank’ for posting. I don’t know why, but reading the first paragraph reminded me of Old Boy – I think because that’s also got a very simple but also very intriguing set up at the beginning.

    • Awesome! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it after once you see it. I can see how the beginning could remind you of Oldboy, even though the movies are much different after that point. Thanks for stopping by and following!

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