Film Review: Holy Motors (2012)

on Wednesday, October 03, 2012
'Holy Motors' (UK Release: 28 Sep '12) // Words: Saam Das

Pretentious guff doesn't go far enough to describe French writer-director Leos Carax's bold latest feature. Perhaps unsurprising considering his innately obtuse nature - real name Alexandre Oscar Dupont, his pseudonym is formed from an anagram of his first and middle names. 'Holy Motors' proves similarly self-indulgent.

The film made a strong impression at its Cannes Film Festival premiere earlier in the year, and it early rumours suggested it was a front runner for the Palme D'Or - later won by Michael Haneke's 'Amour'. Its critical reaction has continued to be strong, and almost universally positive. Yet even at Cannes it was considered by the jury as one of the competition films "that most divided the jury".

One of my few positives is the absorbing central performance of Denis Lavant as Mr Oscar, the transformative character that traverses multiple lives, encountering the likes of Kay M (Eva Mendes) and Elise (Kylie Minogue) along his episodic journey. As the narrative (if it can be called as such) ensues, 'Holy Motors' clocks up several cinematic references, mostly remaining frustratingly unclear for all but the most ardent film historian.

'Holy Motors' was one of my most anticipated films of the year. If anything that naive hope made the subsequent experience all the more depressing. (A fellow audience member must have felt similarly, leaving after an hour.) 'Holy Motors' may be unconventional and deliberately bewildering, however these are not always characteristics to be celebrated. Arthouse cinema at its worst.


'Holy Motors' is out now in UK cinemas through Artificial Eye.

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