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Directed by Leos Carax
Starring: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Kylie Minogue, Eva Mendes, Elise Lhomeau, Michael Piccoli
Given the Quixotic title of French provocateur Leos Carax’s wild tour de force, it’s tempting to think he views his leading man, Denis Lavant, as being on a mission from God. Chauffeured around Paris by the icy, statuesque beauty Céline (French film legend Edith Scob), Monsieur Oscar (Lavant) transforms himself into grotesque and sublime characters as he acts out the fantasies of various clients. There’s also something quite profane in Lavant’s portrayals, and maybe that’s the point—for Carax, the grotesque is the sublime, and the profane, sacred. Unquestionably, this is cinéma du look at its most gorgeous—the screen radiates with shocking, beautiful imagery as Lavant playacts often mind-bending scenarios. But it’s also surprisingly funny and emotional; although full of cinematic allusions (from Jacques Demy’s forlorn musicals to Planet of the Apes), Holy Motors is never just an intellectual exercise. At its eccentric heart, it’s about the roles we assume in an attempt to make authentic connections. Playing God has never seemed so vulnerably human.
Film Note Writer: Michelle Devereaux