Holy Motors

Holy Motors

5.0 1
Director: Leos Carax, Denis Lavant

Cast: Leos Carax, Denis Lavant


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This freewheeling surrealist outing from France attempts to dispense almost completely with conventional narrative structure; instead, it offers a series of absurdist sketches with scarcely any discernible connection between them. The film opens on a character played by director Leos Carax known only as "Le Dormeur." After waking up one morning, he somehow locates and


This freewheeling surrealist outing from France attempts to dispense almost completely with conventional narrative structure; instead, it offers a series of absurdist sketches with scarcely any discernible connection between them. The film opens on a character played by director Leos Carax known only as "Le Dormeur." After waking up one morning, he somehow locates and opens a secret door in his apartment, and wanders into a packed movie house where an audience watches King Vidor's classic The Crowd and a giant dog wanders up and down the aisles. Meanwhile, Oscar (Denis Lavant) rides to work in a white limousine driven by his close friend and associate Céline (Edith Scob); Oscar's job, it seems, involves using makeup, elaborate costumes, and props to carry out a number of complex and unusual scenarios. Of these, one has the actor performing an action sequence and simulated sex with an actress on a soundstage while he's filmed by an off-camera director. The second sequence puts him in a sewer with Monsieur Merde, a character who first appeared in Carax's segment in the omnibus picture Tokyo!; here, Merde falls in love with a beautiful model (Eva Mendes) who accompanies him on a jaunt through a cemetery. Subsequent episodes cast Oscar in a deathbed melodrama, a gangster film, a musical alongside pop star Kylie Minogue, and much more. At one point in the picture, Carax implies that Oscar may be acting these scenes out for hidden cameras, which are webcasting the episodes for Internet surfers. An intriguing footnote: Movie buffs may experience some déjà vu while watching Scob in this film, as she's deliberately used to invoke her characterization from Georges Franju's 1960 horror classic Eyes without a Face, and at one point, even wears a facial mask similar to the one she donned in that picture. Holy Motors marked Carax's first feature since the 1999 Pola X.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
While a single viewing (or even three) of Holy Motors isn't enough to begin to plumb the depths of its mysteries, it is enough to confirm that this weird, dazzling, utterly unique movie is one of the highlights of 21st century cinema thus far. The first feature-length film from French mad genius Leos Carax since 1999's Pola X, Holy Motors is a wild trip through several different genres and possibly different planes of reality, acting as both an elegy for the movies and a look at the artificiality and essential strangeness of modern life. Denis Lavant stars as Oscar, a brilliant actor/impersonator whose job and purpose in life are never quite made clear. He begins his day by getting into a stretch limo, driven by a faithful chauffeur named Céline (Edith Scob), and he's told that he has nine appointments waiting for him. For each task, Oscar transforms himself using makeup and various costumes, and then exits the vehicle in disguise. The first job finds him dressing up as a decrepit old woman to beg for change on the street. For the second, he dons a motion-capture suit that covers his entire body and pretends to battle imaginary foes in a darkened room while computers record his actions to create a computer-generated fantasy epic (complete with freaky demon sex). For the third, he becomes a wild-haired, sewer-dwelling vagrant who kidnaps a fashion model (Eva Mendes) in the middle of a photo shoot. What's going on here? And what's Carax getting at? Perhaps the key to understanding Holy Motors can be found in a scene midway through the movie in which Oscar's mysterious employer (Michel Piccoli) shows up in the limo to let him know that he's unimpressed with his acting; Oscar responds that the cameras have become so small that he doesn't even feel their presence anymore, and as a result, he no longer believes he's an actor. In other words, Oscar isn't barging into real life in order to complete his assignments, but is taking part in elaborate, meticulously choreographed simulations that are either movie productions or some other kind of future entertainment. It's not just Oscar's performances that are unreal; everything that we're watching is meant to be fake. Right? Well, maybe, maybe not. Carax keeps trying to fool us again and again, testing the boundaries of what (if anything) can be considered real in this world and giving us very little stable ground to stand on. During a trip to pick up his "daughter" from a teen house party, it briefly seems like we're getting a glimpse of the real Oscar as he tells her that he's been busy with his appointments and engages in the first naturalistic conversation we've seen him conduct with someone other than Céline; but, of course, this too turns out to be just another performance that ends once he drops her off at "home." Later, Oscar encounters a fellow impersonator he was once romantically involved with (pop star Kylie Minogue, bringing a surprising amount of depth and pathos to her brief role) and goes on a tour of an abandoned department store with her. The movie heavily implies that their reunion is genuine and a temporary break from their acting work -- except that the scene includes a highly stylized musical number that feels as artificial as any of the previous appointments. Holy Motors might be arguing that as films have become less important as a cultural institution and real life has become more insincere and just plain tackier (check out the scene set in a graveyard where the headstones tell mourners to visit the deceased's websites), we're now living in a world in which the line between performance and human interaction has been hopelessly blurred. Or it could just be a grab bag of crazy ideas that Carax has had rattling around in his head for the past decade (hey, you try explaining the movie's coda, in which the impersonators' limos start talking amongst themselves when no one is around). But regardless of what you ultimately take away from the film, Holy Motors' individual pieces are so enthralling that it will likely inspire repeat viewings and debates for years to come. This is a tour de force of imagination that needs to be seen and argued about by anyone who truly cares about the past and future of cinema.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Stereo, Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Sales rank:

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Denis Lavant M. Oscar,Le banquier,La mendiante,L'OS de Motion-Capture,M. Merde,Le père,L'accordéoniste,Le tueur,Le tué,Le mourant,L'homme au foyer
Edith Scob Celine
Kylie Minogue Eva Grace,Jean
Eva Mendes Kay M
Elise Lhomeau Lea,Elise
Michel Piccoli The Man with the Birthmark
Jeanne Disson Angèle
Leos Carax le rêveur
Nastya Golubeva Carax La petite fille
Reda Oumouzoune Actor
Zlata Actor
Geoffrey Carey Actor
Annabelle Dexter-Jones Actor
Elise Caron Actor
Corinne Yam Actor
Julien Prevost Actor
Ahcène Nini Actor
Pierre Marcoux Actor
Hanako Danjo Actor
Bastien Bernini Actor

Technical Credits
Leos Carax Director,Screenwriter
Didier Abot Producer
Katia Boutin Sound/Sound Designer
Yves Cape Cinematographer
Caroline Champetier Cinematographer
Emmanuel Croset Sound/Sound Designer
Eugenie Deplus Production Manager
Denis Gastou Makeup Special Effects
Erwan Kerzanet Sound/Sound Designer
Martine Mariganc Producer
Nelly Quettier Editor
Josefo Rodriguez Sound/Sound Designer
Anais Romand Costumes/Costume Designer
Florian Sanson Set Decoration/Design
Jean-Christophe Spadaccini Makeup Special Effects
Maurice Tinchant Producer

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Holy Motors
1. Secret Door [6:06]
2. Gypsy Beggar [8:15]
3. Motion Capture [9:52]
4. The Beauty Of The Act [4:55]
5. Photo Shoot [5:20]
6. Underground Lair [7:33]
7. Father & Daughter [10:15]
8. Deadly Doppelgänger [10:03]
9. In Cold Blood [5:12]
10. A Dying Old Man [12:30]
11. Intersecting Paths [4:42]
12. "Who Were We?" [7:25]
13. On The Edge [5:04]
14. The Ride Home [4:59]
15. Holy Motors [8:44]
16. End Titles [4:44]


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Holy Motors 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
mkrueger More than 1 year ago
Cinema as we wish it would always be - at its most creative.  With greats such as Kubrick, Fellini, Antonioni gone - we have but a few exceptional directors, such as Leos Carax and Peter Greenaway, that take us to another realm, of creative thought and imagery.  Thank you Mr. Carax (just wish there were more movies to see, but - anything from him is worth waiting for)