Tuesday, 2 October 2012


The making of many movies. Any hack can fart out overcooked surrealist nonsense, but it takes talent and intelligence to make sense out of nonsense. This is what Leos Carax does with Holy Motors. It's frequently surprising just how rich this film is - Carax's mise-en-scene is so detailed, the content so deeply thought through. He makes an unusual but appropriate decision to cultivate an emotional narrative, in a wholly roundabout manner, which enriches the absurdity, rather than repelling it. Even early on, the conviction Carax has in his images makes them compelling, and he's aided by a remarkable performance by Denis Lavant, who is admirably thorough in his depiction of an impenetrable character. The biggest challenge, for Lavant, for Carax, for almost everyone involved, particularly those who have worked on more than one section of this episodic film, is the illogicality of it. Even as Carax appears to suggest that these peculiar appointments on which M. Oscar is embarking have a purpose, there remains so much of Holy Motors which cannot be explained away. Embracing the inherent artificiality of the concept of cinema, entire sequences, or perhaps just elements of sequences, would represent such utter improbabilities in a realistic scenario, thus making clear that this is not an experience in which we ought to invest deep consideration or emotional involvement. Yet, in creating a film purely for the pleasure - or otherwise - of the experience of watching it (and, in all film, the experience is king), Carax encourages the notion of audience participation in the inclusion of moments between his appointments, evidently only existing for our own eyes, and, moreso, in the sense that this film is only of any importance if we connect with it. I certainly did. I found it funny when it intended to be funny, ridiculous when it intended to be ridiculous, and moving when it intended to be moving (crucially, Carax makes a sincere effort in this department, something which is not undercut by the unrelenting ridiculousness).