Holy Motors (2012), by Leos Carax
The leitmotif of the work of Leos Carax, the French filmmaker, is the relentless quest for depictions of tortured figures, fully exposing the human behaviour. It’s a strenuous exercise, which he embraces with the unique creativity of his creations. Carax explores this universe in a poetic manner, through narratives that get attached to our minds.
His jarring filmography entices extreme views, but no one remains indifferent to it. Boy Meets Girl (1984), Mauvais Sang (1986) and Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991) are some of the works that illustrate this reality.
Filmed in 2012, Holy Motors was one of the strangest and most bizarre movies I’ve ever seen and yet so fascinating. Nothing is linear, as it is not supposed to be.
Carax picks Paris as the background for his wanderings. As soon as the first scene pops out, we suddenly plunge into Carax’s intricate universe, revealing the vast passion for the art that he chose as his own.
Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), the main character, embodies several characters as the plot keeps revealing itself. After his first transformation, the viewer can expect all sorts of things, and that is when we realize that we are about to enter the imaginary yet realistic world of Cinema. Carax subtly approaches several film genres, creating small stories on top of the narrative axis, unfurling the essence of mankind, in a metaphysical game of symbolic endeavours.
Monsieur Oscar’s metamorphoses reach a dramatic, almost surrealistic dimension, as they act like the mirrors of our own selves. They represent our greatest fantasies, perversions, fears, the darkest pleasures, never to be revealed.
Holy Motors is the depiction of our urges. Obscure, because it awakens our darkest side. Disturbing, because it questions our identity. Carax has no answers. The viewer has to reflect on the psychological and cinematic dimensions, whether fictionalized or not…
A movie with an astonishing, beautifully scenic script (produced by Carax), with an outstanding soundtrack to consolidate the tenebrous atmosphere. Denis Lavant reinvents himself in every conceivable and impossible way, ultimately reaching perfection.
Although I do not intend to disclose much more about Holy Motors, I must emphasize two absolutely extraordinary scenes, extremely intense, almost breath-taking. The first (Monsieur Oscar takes on the role of an accordionist) for its grandiosity. The second (in which he acts alongside Kylie Minogue, Eva Grace) for its truthfulness.
And that scene is where we precisely watch, just for once, the protagonist and Eva Grace together, a woman whose craft is the same of Monsieur Oscar, both stripped of their characters, in a clash with the reality of their fragile and complicated existences…
“(…) Who were we?
Who were we when we were who we were, back then?
Who would we have become if we’d done differently, back then?
No new beginnings
Some die, saw go on living”.
After all … “We were we?”
A one of a kind.