Cannes: Lost Patience with Leos Carax's "Holy Motors"

Posted 8:21 AM May 26th, 2012 by Senh Duong
Holy Motors

Leos Carax's "Holy Motors" was a tough film to sit through, especially after what happened to me that morning. I had stayed up until about 3 AM updating Wopular, slept just a couple hours and rushed to the 7:39 AM train ride without breakfast. When I got to Cannes for the 8:30 AM screening of “On The Road,” I found out I had forgotten my press badge. I rushed back to the train station, got to the hotel, took the train back, and was ready for the noon screening of “Holy Motors.” I was tired, annoyed at myself for forgetting my press badge, and very hungry.

Like David Cronenberg's "Cosmopolis," the main setting of “Holy Motors” is a limo. I nodded off for a few minutes as the movie began. I nodded off again after a few sequences. I woke up in time to see the Eva Mendes scene, but walked out before reaching the Kylie Minogue appearance. I saw about an hour and a half of the movie. I was tired, annoyed and hungry, and the film didn't seem to be going anywhere. I didn't think the film was worth sitting through to find out why the guy's going around Paris acting out seemingly unrelated scenes.

The movie involves a guy, a limo, and the driver. Inside the limo is a dressing room equipped with Hollywood style make-up equipment and props. The limo driver delivers the guy to his various appointments and makes sure he's on schedule. Depending on where the appointment takes him, he would make himself up and dress himself according to the character his appointment calls for. The limo driver drops him off to live locations with unsuspecting people.

In the beginning, he's an elderly homeless person begging for money on a street corner. He goes on to play a father who picks up his introverted daughter from a party; a caveman who kidnaps a fashion model and shows off his erection to her; and a man being motion-captured in front of a green screen. In one sequence, he goes into an Asian sweatshop and stabs someone to death, and then re-arranges the guy's face to look like him. Afterwards, he gets shot near a restaurant. He's a street musician. I think I left when he was playing a dying man in a hotel.

By that time, the people sitting between me and the aisle had already had enough and walked out. I had enough too. After the cave scene, I kept on thinking I would just give it one more scene to convince me to stay. But I stayed for more because I didn't want to interrupt the people sitting between me and the aisle.

I'm not sure why this chameleon is going around Paris doing all these random, bizarre, and sometimes abstract acts. There was a scene that gave a clue. An older man popped up in his limo telling him people are noticing that he's not that into it anymore - that he's just phoning it in. I guess this is some kind of reality show that people are watching. I don't know.

I just don't know. In the cave scene, the guy kidnaps a model played by Eva Mendes. He empties her purse and starts eating her money. He then tries to eat her hair. Afterwards, he gets naked, showing a huge erection. On the model’s lap, he and his erection go. You know, I just don’t know about this.

What I do know is that it's probably an actor's dream role. It puts him in a playground where he can morph into many characters in a series of different situations. Denis Lavant delves into these roles effortlessly. It's an actor's demo reel, and although Lavant is impressive, it' not a movie.

It's probably a lot of fun for the makeup artist too.

For this audience member, it's a challenge to sit through.

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About Senh Duong

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Senh created and operated Rotten Tomatoes out of his apartment at one point before coming together with friends to turn it into a real company. He's back to doing what he loves with Movies With Butter.

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