Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)

What's it about? Okay, you've got me. I don't really know. I'll give you a rough outline - after that you're on your own. It's a sort of portmanteau film which follows M. Oscar (Denis Lavant) as he travels round Paris by limousine to various 'appointments', each of which requires him to become a different person. With the help of disguises he transforms into, amongst others, an old beggarwoman, an assassin, a mo-cap actor and a mental, flower-eating dwarf. Why? Why, indeed.

Is it any good?

I don't trust you. What do others think? Okay, wait, wait. Give me a chance. I quite liked this, to be honest. Sure, it's bizarre and surreal, but it's never boring and is often quite funny as it pin-balls crazily from one set-piece to another. After a few days reflection, I do think this is quite an inspired piece of work, even though I couldn't really blame anyone for dismissing it as a ridiculous pile of unwatchable bollocks. But to me it did actually make some sort of sense - it's about the different roles that we play in our everyday lives and how we wear a different face for different people. Isn't it? Anyone agree? Anyone? Well, a quick look a other opinions reveal any number of interpretations, from it being a meditation on the nature of cinema, to a reflection on life and death, to a satire on religion, to a commentary on society's relationship with media, indicating nobody really quite knew what to make of it. "Barking mad", "bonkers", "enigmatic", "absurd" were words that turned up regularly. But they all acknowledged that some sort of mad genius was at work here, someone who was pushing the boundaries of cinema and challenging conventional limitations of onscreen narrative. It took Cannes by storm and ended up on a lot of 'Best Film' Lists at the end of 2012. Basically, if you're looking for a antidote to mainstream movies, with their conventional, logical narratives, then give this a go. It really is quite a unique film.

Anything else I should know? A few others things to watch out for.
1. Kylie Minogue turns up with a Jean Seberg pixie cut, singing a song written by Neil Hannon. She's quite good.
2. Director Leos Carax is the guy with the spanner-finger who wakes up at the start and walks through the wall (told you it was surreal). His real name is Alex Oscar Dupont - Leos Carax is an anagram of his first two names. So now you know.
3. Edith Scob plays the chuaffeur. She is best known for the film Eyes Without a Face, which is explicitly referenced when she puts on a mask near the end.
4. In fact the film has many film references for cineastes, paying homage to French classics, such as La Belle et la Bete, and silent cinema, such as The Crowd, with Lavant's brilliant shape-shifting performance reminiscent of 'The Man of 1000 Faces', Lon Chaney Jr. In a typically bizarre statement, Carax admitted he had considered long-dead Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin to play M. Oscar.
5. Denis Lavant is the guy from that Stella Artois ad where he had to fetch all the things for his dying father.
6. Read an interview with Carax here and here. He's a bit odd, you'll not be surprised to hear.
7. Halfway through is a wonderful entr'acte (musical intermission), as Lavant and company belt out a cover version of Let My Baby Ride. Nothing like a bit of joyous accordion playing to liven up a movie.

What does the Fonz think? Like an arthouse version of Mr Benn

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