Movie Review: 'Holy Motors' -- 3 stars
Written and directed by Leos Carax
Starring Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Kylie Minogue, Eva Mendes
Surrealism is given a 21st Century jolt in "Holy Motors," French filmmaker Leos Carax's crack at the cinematic art practiced by everyone from Luis Buñuel to David Lynch. Like many of its predecessors, the movie is alternately confounding and stimulating, a nutty headtrip filled with both pretentious digressions and evocative imagery.
The film follows the mysterious Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) over the course of what appears to be an ordinary day on the job. That is to say, it's as everyday as things get when your profession has you traveling around Paris and transforming into different characters inhabiting completely unconnected lives, driven from one "appoinment" to the next by a patient chauffer (Edith Scob) in a white limo.
Oscar is, alternately, a beggar, a motion-capture specalist, a subterranean-dwelling beast, a concerned father, Kylie Minogue's former lover and more.
The movie is a meditation on the nature of performance and the notion of "pure cinema," or filmmaking centered on visuals, camerawork and editing -- uniquely "cinematographic" elements -- rather than dialogue and plot.
At their essence, movies are smoke and mirrors, an illusion of reality constructed out of countless behind-the-scenes manipulations. Oscar is essentially an actor playing a series of parts, and inside the limo, Carax shows us the work that goes on inside the dream factory.
The movie built around the character is comprised of sensuous experiences and playful quirks, defying comprehension in an attempt to stimulate you in a pure, visceral sense. You'll either run with it or you won't, but you can be sure you've never seen anything quite like it.