There is a narrative, but it is far from conventional. It is set around Monsieur Oliver (Denis Lavant), who operates out of the back of a limousine. He lives many parallel lives, and we follow him for a single day and night, as he embodies different characters and makes scheduled appointments. The film is episodic, but it is comprised of a series of individual vignettes that flow so elegantly together that they also feel connected. Every single one is memorable for some reason or other - be it so bizarre one can't help but remain glued to the screen, so shocking it makes one squeamish or so hilarious that you can't help but laugh out loud.
Without a doubt, the film's strongest feature - apart from Carax's assured grasp on the proceedings every step of the way - is Denis Lavant. What a fascinating character, and an extremely versatile and convincing series of performances. Ultimately, Monsieur Oscar is a very sad individual whose only recognisable reality is the back of his limousine, and Lavant effectively generates sympathy. Also fantastic is Edith Scob as his driver, and the two well-publicised cameos from Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue are very interesting indeed.
The cinematography from Caroline Champetier (Of Gods and Men) is absolutely stunning; as are the series of the lengthy single takes, the wonderful use of Parisian landmarks, and the way that the city of Paris has been transformed into a somewhat surreal metropolis. The film has wonderful pacing; always enthralling, never surrendering intrigue and always keeping a viewer guessing.
Holy Motors is absurd; it's an experiment in all-out obscurity, and my favourite film of the year so far. I can't describe - rather, I don't want to describe what it is about any further - because the primary reason the film is so entertaining (gloriously original at every turn, breathtakingly beautiful in its production, perplexing, perverse, shocking and hilarious all at the same time) is the joy of unraveling the film's mysteries yourself.
Throughout the entire duration, which flew by, I had no idea what to expect at any time, and it is unlike any film I have ever seen. Actually, the film's premise, which on simplest terms is an ode to cinema and spectatorship and the passion for performance - a cyclical compulsion to embody a character and play a role for a hidden audience - shares some similarities with another film that played at the festival. From my reading, it is a film that could learn something from Leos Carax's vision and Holy Motors. I left the film with a big grin on my face and a buzz I could not shake. An absolute blast.
My Rating: ★★★★★