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