Sunday, November 18, 2012

A ROTTEN TOMATO: Holy Motors


Back in May, French filmmaker Leos Carax unleashed a rather unique film when he premiered "Holy Motors" at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. The film follows a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar (played by Denis Lavant), a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. This is taken straight from the IMDb description because to be honest, I have no idea how to describe the plot of this film. "Holy Motors" is so determinedly obtuse that it seems to take pride in creating a difficult viewing experience. Although its abstract nature put me into a negative mood at the end, I was initially quite taken with certain elements of the film. Particularly in the early part of the film, there are some great scenes involving Oscar and his various shenanigans. Lavant undoubtedly gives an impressive performance as his character pretends to be a wide range of different people. He is able to completely transform himself and simultaneously gives us a crash course on hair and makeup!
Unfortunately, there seems to be something missing in the character development of Oscar himself as a human being. This is the main gripe I have with this film, as all the characters just seemed so hollow. The script refuses to answer the essential questions of "who", "why" and "what". I never really got a sense of who Oscar was and how he was thinking or feeling (the scarcity of dialogue didn't help either). Furthermore, there wasn't any explanation (or maybe I missed it?) of the purpose of his daily routine. Considering the bizarre nature of his actions, it felt like a disservice to the audience for the filmmakers to not hint at his motivations. As a result, I became increasingly disinterested in this character. The film itself seemed to lose its grip on the material, as the latter stages of the film seemed to lose all the energy of the beginning. It's a shame, because I really was willing to go along for the ride. By the halfway point of the film though, I started checking my watch to see how much longer I had left. "Holy Motors" is a film that had a lot of potential, but it just falls flat when all is said and done.

7 comments:

  1. bummer. the trailer seemed so intriguing

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    1. I think you should still check it out. It's a film that you can easily love, hate, or both!!

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  2. Aww man! This is one of my favourite films of 2012. I loved it. I think the whole idea is that we don't know what Oscar is thinking or why. He is a character himself, playing various roles in a statement about the acting profession and our twenty-first century lives which are played out in front of the camera, whether cctv, mobile phones, web cams etc. It also looks at the way we behave depending upon who we are with. I know I'm a very different person with my friends as I am with my girlfriend's parents for example.

    I thought it was an excellent film but can understand that it is a bit of a love it/hate it type of movie. I'm firmly in the love it camp.

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    1. Yeh, I know you loved it and I can definitely understand that. I'm sure you are right about what the whole point of the movie is. It just didn't sit well with me.

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    2. That's fair enough. It's certainly not the sort of movie that will get universal acclaim.

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