French people are weird. Big woop!
From dawn to after nightfall, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part…but where are the cameras?
I’ve been hearing a hell of a lot of noise about this crazy French-flick through the grapevine and for the most part: I had no idea what the hell to expect. I heard it was weird, I heard it was strange, I heard it didn’t make sense, I heard it demanded repeated-viewings, I heard people didn’t get it, and I heard people (mainly critics) had a freakin’ hard-on over it, but most of all, I heard it was a movie that needed to be seen. Thankfully, I found it somewhere, checked it out, and still have no idea what the hell to even think about this in the end. Well, then again, maybe that’s the point after all?
Writer/director Leos Carax definitely has his own way of making a movie, and he sticks very, very clear to that style/image. Right from the beginning, I felt like I was watching a David Lynch movie with all of the weird and surreal images, that sometimes lingered right on ambiguous and I really wondered what the hell I was caught with here. However, the film went on and that’s when things started to pick-up and become more and more fun, not just for me though, for Carax as well.
I’m not too sure what the main plot of this movie is, but without giving too much away, we practically just watch a guy run-around France, dress-up in different costumes, and do some oddly crazy shit that you may have to wipe your eyes a few times to believe what it is that you are actually seeing. Watching this main character just do a bunch of strange-shit, without any rhyme or reason would have been terribly annoying, and just another time for me to rant and rave about how much I didn’t get anything that happened, but that didn’t seem to really impact my overall feeling of the movie here and that’s mainly because of Carax and his style of filmmaking, as weird as it may be.
Being nutty and completely random seems like the name of the game for Carax and I stand by the dude because he knows how to have a good-time with material that seems to lose anybody within the first 5 minutes of it being on-screen. For instance, watching a guy dress-up as a whole bunch of people, sometimes going around kidnapping, killing, or treating people, seems like an confused piece of boredom, but it surprisingly isn’t for the longest-time. Carax just throws whatever the hell it is that he can get to stick-up on the wall and the stuff that does stick, for the most part, worked and had me feeling like I was apart of a good-time and it didn’t matter where it went with itself, either. Sometimes you get a gangster movie, sometimes you get a melodrama, sometimes you get a comedy, and sometimes, oddly enough, you get a musical. I’m telling you, you will have no idea what to expect from this movie and once you get used to the fact that Carax is just going to do his own thang, and doesn’t give a hoot on whether or not you like it, then the better time you may have.
However, when I do say the word “may”, I really do mean that you may or may not like it because it’s not for everyone, and I’m still trying to guess on whether or not which group I was particularly apart of. The reason I say that is because about half-way through this flick, things start to shake-up and get a bit weird, but not in the good-weird either. See, with the first 45 minutes or so, I was catching what Carax was throwing at me, because everything was quick, fast, weird, and pretty humorous for the most part. But, after those first 45 minutes, things start to change and get slow, soapy, weird, and pretty, pretty serious, and almost to the point of where I had no idea where they were going with it.
For instance, I’m all fine and dandy with a movie that’s willing to just be crazy and not make an apology for it, or it’s weird story, but you got to give me a reasoning for everything that I’m seeing, or else you’re really going to start to lose me, and lose me quick. That’s the problem with this movie, Carax forgets the three main-points you need to have to a script to really make us care and why: the ”who”, the “why”, and the “what”. Honestly, I had no idea what this Oscar-guy was doing, why he was doing it, or for the most-part, who the hell all of these random characters were that just seemed to pop-up out of nowhere, give their 10 cents away, and never be seen, or heard from again.
And usually I can get rid of these plot problems in terms of reasoning, just because of the fun feel and look of the movie, but this movie really does lose that fun, infectious-feel to it that made me feel so along for the ride in the first-place. It seems as if Carax decided to slow everything down, get a bit serious, and ultimately, try to make things more dramatic with a character we knew nothing about, have no background on him whatsoever, and just have no idea hos motivations or ideas in his head are. Maybe I was thinking a bit too much about this guy, what Carax was going to do with him, and where the story was going to take him, but I do think that the viewer (myself included) deserves more of an understanding of what they’re watching, and not robbed of that idea in their heads, just because the director feels the need to be so cool, creative, and, well, dare I say it, relatively pretentious. Yeah, I’m going to get a lot of heat for that last one, but hey, bring it on, hardcore critics!
If there is any reason as to why this character, Oscar, even works is because of the guy who’s playing him: Denis Lavant. Lavant has not been a dude I’ve seen much of in anything really, but he absolutely blasted me away with everything he pulled-off here with all of the costumes, clothes, and different appearances that seemed to take-on a life of it’s own sometimes. When Cloud Atlas came-out, everybody was boasting about how much stars like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant all had to really stretch their acting abilities out just to keep-up with all of the make-up, costumes, and different character variations, well to be honest, none of them have got shit on Lavant, because this guy blows them all out of the water by totally convincing us he’s every single one of these different characters, dedicates himself to that character, and never for once seems like he’s faking. There’s a couple of really weird and crazy stuff this guy has to go through with, but you know, Lavant makes it all seem way too easy and the guy is one talented mofo, that I hope to see a lot more of in the future.
The rest of the cast is pretty good, but much like a similar-movie that came out this year and featured a shit-load of scenes with a guy in the back of a limo (Cosmopolis), they don’t really have much to do, except stand there for Lavant and watch as he takes over each and every scene. The most familiar faces out of the whole bunch of supporters, is probably Eva Mendes, who barely even speaks in her whole role as a sexy model that Oscar kidnaps, and a still, stunningly beautiful Kylie Minogue who shows-up, let’s us all know that she’s still alive and well, and still reminding us that she can sure as hell still sing. God, I still wonder where that gal must be nowadays!
Consensus: Even though it’s not for everybody (and still may not even be for me), Holy Motors is still a flick that plays by it’s own set of rules, makes no apologies for it, and even asks you to come-along for the ride. It’s not a wholly-satisfying ride, but still one that will have you entertained, intrigued, and just wondering what the hell is going to happen next.