Holy Motors Review


Easily the most interesting movie of the year, Holy Motors is a film begging for interpretation.  While the film seems to be a commentary of some sort on the nature of acting, or the different roles we portray throughout our lives, this movie is so rich with completely baffling and unexpected material that a case could be made for any myriad of interpretations.  Throughout the film I found myself grasping for some kind of concrete theme, but director Leos Carax refuses to make things that easy.

The film does not have a real plot, in the traditional sense.  It instead follows the daily activities of Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), as he travels through Paris performing a series of increasingly bizarre and disjointed tasks as though they were monotonous and perfectly reasonable things for a rich man in a limousine to be doing. While never explicitly clear, Oscar is a contract actor of sorts, though his motivations are never explained as he navigates through the city taking on various, often ridiculous personae.  He is a murderer, a lunatic, a father, throwing himself completely into these roles how over psychotic they may be.

Though I will not pretend to have any of the answers on this film, it is clear that it is a film about identity, and by my estimation, social interaction. At the end of the film, Oscar is clearly exhausted by these tasks that he must perform every day, for seemingly little purpose.  My personal interpretation of the film is that it is a commentary on the ever changing state of our personalities told through hyperbole.  More specifically, Oscar’s jobs are representative of the various roles he is expected to perform in real life, as at one time or another; we are all doing some amount of acting ourselves in our daily lives.  Though I acknowledge the film has much more to offer than just this interpretation, having only seen the movie once, I do not feel comfortable making wild guesses at what appears on the surface to be an exercise in complete insanity.

While Holy Motors is in many ways a creative masterpiece, it was an intensely frustrating movie going experience.  This movie challenges the viewer to analyze the film at breakneck pace, yet it is unapologetically complex, making it next to impossible to synthesize all the vignettes within the film into anything that resembles a definite interpretation. Though this movie did not make my top ten list of 2012, it is a film that I would highly recommend as I can guarantee there is very little else like it.

4.5 out of 5

8 thoughts on “Holy Motors Review

  1. leesbj February 8, 2013 / 5:07 pm

    It looks bizarre

    • Andrew King February 8, 2013 / 9:43 pm

      It is a very strange and challenging movie, but well worth it.

  2. keith7198 February 8, 2013 / 6:47 pm

    Nice review! I’m really anxious to catch up with this one.

    • Andrew King February 8, 2013 / 9:46 pm

      It is well worth a watch as long as you are willing to not be dismissive of its overall weirdness.

  3. gregory moss February 8, 2013 / 8:41 pm

    Hey Andrew, great write-up! I thoroughly enjoyed this film – especially its perplexing nature. I defy anyone to guess what happens next. And its great to see Australia’s own Kylie Minogue singing up there on the big screen. I’m definitely looking forward to catching up with this on blu-ray – as I’m guessing a second viewing will be an entirely different experience – and possibly slightly more fulfilling than the first. An amazing movie! 🙂

    • Andrew King February 8, 2013 / 9:45 pm

      In a lot of ways it actually reminded me of a film called Synecdoche, New York, which is another very perplexing and layer movie. Yeah I basically loved this, with a few small exceptions, and eagerly await subsequent viewings. Thanks for the comment.

  4. mistylayne February 9, 2013 / 4:28 am

    I love movies like this and haven’t heard of this one. Looking forward to checking it out.

    • Andrew King February 9, 2013 / 8:09 am

      It is a winner to be sure. A really great and provocative movie.

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