I shouldn’t even attempt to explain “Holy Motors”


A billboard for “Holy Motors”

By Wesley Emblidge

Few movies have contained moments that truly baffle me, but when a person dressed as a leprechaun emerges from a sewer system into a cemetery, proceeding to eat the flowers off of people’s graves and kidnap a clothing model, I do have trouble knowing exactly what to make of it. “Holy Motors” is the new film by Leos Carax (whose last film, “Pola X” made way back in 1999, is apparently as weird as this), who has managed to dream up one of the most bizarre and polarizing, yet blissfully original and entertaining films I’ve seen in ages.

There’s no real way to explain “Holy Motors,” but I’ll attempt a fairly basic plot summary. Oscar (Denis Lavant) rides around in the back of a white limo, putting on an array of disguises for each of his strange appointments, each like a scene from their own movie. They range from shocking and strange, such as the aforementioned leprechaun sequence, to very simple and grounded, like a father picking his daughter up from a party. However, each is only a moment in the film, before we’re whisked back to the limo and on the way to Oscars’ next appointment. Along the way, Oscar talks with his driver, boss and co-workers about how he’s somewhat depressed with this life, longing from something more.

It’s a film you either hate or love (there were a lot of walkouts in my theater). Once I got a handle on what was happening, I was completely on board with what Carax was doing. Each segment completely transforms Oscar (and as a result Lavant) into someone practically unrecognizable with some fantastic makeup, and is so different from what came before, it’s like you’re watching an anthology film.

“Holy Motors” is a film I’ll probably still be trying to figure out years from now, one that I’ll certainly be revisiting. It’ll turn a lot of people off, but if you can go in with an open mind and stick around, you’ll get to take in something you truly have never experienced before.


5/5 Stars