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Customer Review

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carax the Existential Mechanic, 26 Oct. 2012
This review is from: Holy Motors [DVD] (DVD)
Leos Carax's first feature in over a decade is the sort of film that defies star ratings because it only gives what the viewer is willing to take. Personally, I found it to be a intriguing, moving, serious exploration of the roles we adopt throughout life, and how those roles can prevent us from locating our true identity. But I can see why some might find it frustrating or even impenetrable. I feel the film is flawed in its final moments, when Oscar returns to his "last job" - what might have been poignant is, in my view, cheaply undermined - followed by a climactic Big Train-esque gag too far.

The ageless Denis Lavant should be up for an Oscar as Oscar, the chameleonic actor whose myriad roles see him infiltrate the real world, or possibly prearranged compartments of the real world, inciting mayhem or emotion as required. At times his antics resemble Lars Von Trier's The Idiots via David Lynch; other times, wandering and wounded, the characters look like they've stepped off an Michelangelo Antonioni set. There is nothing "random" about these scenes; each raises pertinent questions about the role of art and its relationship with the functioning world. How far should an actor go before he becomes his role? If there is no one around to see it performed, is it still art? And should we, as an audience, feel any guilt for enjoying the intimacy of a woman weeping at her dying uncle's bedside?

With its hub inside the enclosed space of a limousine, the film has an aesthetic link with David Cronenberg's recent Cosmopolis. But Carax's film is all about emerging from our internal world and performing in the external; our influence or lack of influence on the world around us. Cronenberg, by comparison, remains on the inside until the end, his characters monologuing fruitlessly without ever really communicating. Both films are despairing and passionate in their own way, and both are films of our time: a time when the methods of human interaction are so vast, yet without apparently moving us any closer to unravelling the mysteries of the subjective experience.

For fans of avant-garde cinema, Holy Motors is essential viewing. For everyone else, it's not so strange as to be alienating, so should be considered a thought-provoking curiosity worth seeking out.
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