Film Review: Holy Motors

Warning: Contains scenes of mild spoilers.

I travelled in to the Soho area of London to see a screening of a new, challenging piece of French cinema that was a big deal at this year's Cannes. I was feeling pretty fancy pants. I drank my pre-show espresso with an out-stretched pinky that day. But I came back down to Earth with a thud when I realised what this film reminded me of... Quantum Leap.

In the new Leos Carax film, stage actor Denis Lavant plays a man who is driven round in one of many limos, his one is chauffeured by Céline, played by Edith Scob. She drops him off to do various jobs. These jobs include being a homeless woman, Eva Mendes's abductor/hair-eater, bad father, a man who is sent to kill his own hairy lookalike... and they were just the ones I understood. There's one job where he seems to become a motion-capture porn star who has sex with a contortionist. That's one way to make ends meet.

It's the jumping from one life to the next that makes it feel like an arty version of Quantum Leap. I half expected the start of each vignette to have Lavant's character, Monsieur Oscar, say, "Oh boy!" Well, maybe the subtitles would print it and he would say, "Oh garçon!"

With each scene comes a different cinematic style, although these could've been more pronounced. It always had that very French, morbid feel to it. And I'm not being harsh in calling it morbid; the main character dies three times but it doesn't seem to bother him. It makes the start of Crank 2: High Voltage seem realistic.

This film makes David Lynch's Lost Highway look sane. And there's a shot of headlights lighting up the road ahead that reminds us of that fact.

I stuck with it and I thought I started to get it. Our lives can be seen as performances, all linked together, and the limos are the divine link that exists between all humans. I even understood a scene that may have had an interesting comment about the wearing of the burqa in France. Yep, I was finally starting to understand what it had to say. And then we saw Monsieur Oscar is married to a chimp and I just gave in.

Lavant certainly shows he can act the pants off the good looking Hollywood set, and this is a treat for the eyes and a bit of the left-brain. And this is where the split comes. If you're a fan of experimental French cinema this film would be right up your street and a big 5-stars from you. And if you are, you probably already know about it and won't use this site for your info.

If you're not into this kind of cinema it might leave you thinking, "And what was the point of that again?"

Oh, unless you're not a Kylie fan, in which case you get to see her die. Oh boy!

See the trailer:

Holy Motors is out on September 28th.


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