Holy Motors is by far the best movie that I've seen from 2012. It is a poetic tour-de-force, a tsunami of experiences, a maze of contemplation and a visual feast. Looking at other reviews for the film, I can see it nearly universally loved though unlike other reviews, I'm going to keep as much of the film veiled behind curtains as possible. I watched the film having only seen a couple of stills, the poster above and a brief synopsis. At first, I was so lost I wished I had known more but as the film progressed I was increasingly grateful for my ignorance. I was surprised continually through this film. I can't even recall when a film managed to do that in the last 20 years.
First, the cinematography in the film is breathtaking from beginning to end with such a variety of locations, colours, and light... it is stunning. The flow of the imagery is consistent and graceful attaining that otherworldly quality that I can't recall since Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire and the two films are similar in many ways. Both deal with a central character who works for a mysterious agency and both have a surreal, fairy-tale quality about them though by no means does this make Holy Motors anything but original.
Another recent film that bears some cursory similarities to this is David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis. Both are journeys taken in a stretch limousine across a city and both deal with similar themes of identity, but these are so trivial amid the audacity of Holy Motors. It changes gears so often and criss crosses between genres at a mind boggling pace which you might assume would make for a fractured film but it holds together extremely well. Why? The aforementioned cinematographer helps. Also the framework built around each part is strong as our protagonist Mr. Oscar(Denis Levant) moves about the city with his chauffeur Céline(Édith Scob) who also works for the Agency.
It is worth noting here that Édith Scob played Christiane Génessier in Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face(1959). Though not absolutely necessary, I think watching that film before Holy Motors will augment your experience though it isn't absolutely necessary.
Denis Levant gives a strong central performance as the mysterious Mr. Oscar, the man of a thousand faces. At times he is funny, engaging, frightening, and disgusting; sometimes all at once. Leos Carax has said he had Levant in mind for the part prior to production and wouldn't have made the film without him and after seeing this film, you'll understand why. Levant has a huge task on his hands and unlike other protagonists, his character changes frequently in the film though Oscar deftly manages to remain coherent. On top of this, the audience slowly gets acquainted with the rules of the Holy Motors world, some of which are mind bending but it doesn't matter because Oscar and Céline are there with us. Also, through all the jolts in the film, I never felt alienated from them; the driver never scared me off the bus or out of the limousine as it were.
Overall, I think if you enjoy the content here on SiouxWIRE then this film will work for you on some level and is what I consider an instant classic. It is simply beautiful, confounding, challenging and boldly cinematic. In time, I will write up in more detail my thoughts regarding the film. Many reviewers seem to think it's fun nonsense, but I disagree. There is a wealth of ideas in this film and it is anything but nonsense. The film has solid concepts that once noted seem practically blatant. Anyhow, I don't wish to divulge too much. Go and see this film, feast your eyes and enjoy the ride.
Holy Motors (Wiki)
Holy Motors (IMDB)
Holy Motors (Facebook)
Holy Motors (Official Site - USA)