2012, 115 minutes
I don't even know where to begin with Leos Carax's film Holy Motors (this is Carax's first feature in 13 years). I don't even know how to describe it. Is it a musical? In some parts. Is it a comedy? In some parts. Drama? Some parts. This film has everything. It is intensely enjoyable and is just about perfect. This review will not be any form of an analysis of the film, so as not to spoil the experience for you all and also because I have not come to one conclusion as to what it all means.
So you may ask, what exactly is Holy Motors? It isn't easy to describe, but I'll try. The film follows Oscar, a businessman who goes around Paris in a limo transforming into nine different people with different lives throughout the course of one day.
Holy Motors is essentially Leos Carax giving the audience and mainstream cinema the finger. In one of the opening scenes, Oscar even has an elongated middle finger. It defies every cinematic convention in the best possible way. A film such as this could have gone very wrong and could have been a total mess, but Carax has complete control over the story. Each and every story is interesting and never drags. The stories are so different in every way that I was just waiting to see what happens next. They are all unpredictable.
Denis Lavant gives an amazing performance as Oscar. His role(s) is physically and emotionally demanding and he rises to the occasion marvelously. If there were justice in the world of the Oscars, he would be nominated for Best Actor. The makeup effects that help his transformations are also Oscar-worthy. They are amazingly convincing and much better than the sometimes great, sometimes shoddy ones in Cloud Atlas.
Carax's direction of the film is tight. He controls all nine stories well and the camerawork is beautiful. It is fluid and each shot is carefully composed.
Now I am going to discuss the experience that is Holy Motors. Watching Holy Motors was exciting and invigorating. I was in heaven watching this. I have always said that the greatest high I could ever experience is that of watching a great film. Holy Motors gave me a rush of energy. During some sequences, particularly two musical numbers that literally come out of nowhere, I had a huge smile on my face and thought about how imaginative and exhilarating it is to watch a good film. Everything in my life faded away and I was completely hooked on watching Carax do what he does best. After a string of good, fair, and terrible films, it was such a relief and breath of fresh air to view this. No words could ever describe the impact Holy Motors had on me.
Overall, Holy Motors is simply sensational. This is the only film that I have seen this year that is at the edge of perfection. There are no moments when it drags, no moments when it doesn't strike the right tone. It really is an unforgettable film and for my money, the best film of the year. If something is better than this, I will be very surprised.