Review: Holy Motors

Holy Motors is just about the strangest film you’ll see all year. Talking cars, domesticated monkeys and motion captured alien sex are just some of the oddities on display in the first film in over a decade from the former enfant terrible of French cinema, Leos Carax.

As long time Carax muse, Denis Lavant is ferried around Paris in the back of a limo, adopting an array of bizarre personas as he goes. It would be all to easy to refer to it as a dreamlike, Lynchian fantasy. Yet not even that description gives an idea of how idiosyncratic, how blackly comic and just how enjoyable the controlled insanity of Holy Motors really is.

Its references to cinema are beyond counting, with Kylie Minogue turning up dressed as Jean Seberg in Breathless and Edith Scob donning her iconic mask from Eyes Without A Face, but its sheer vitality prevents it from being only a cinephile’s delight.

Is it a statement on the role of filmmaker? Is it meaningless fever dream? Does it really matter? Either way, it’s far better to sit back and be carried away by Carax’s barking vision.

As Holy Motors ends, there will undoubtedly be many debating “what it all means”. The film has already answered this question for them, in a key scene where Lavant’s character Oscar is asked what makes him continue with what he does: “What made me start”, he replies, “the beauty of the act”.


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January 2022
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