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Holy Motors de Leos Carax

December 22, 2012


I have no trouble with films – or books or music or whatever – dismissing the ordinary narrative structure, the spectator/reader/listener is always building his own structure during the viewing/reading/listening experience, some works provide more hints and a path, some don’t. Holy Motors isn’t that frugal when you consider the opening sequence, you are a spectator watching a crowd in a movie theater, then we move to a bedchamber, a guy wakes up, he is the film director, Leos Carax in person, then we follow the camera until we meet one wall of his bedroom: it’s a thick forest and a finger of Carax’s hand has become a key to enter it (the forest theme will return during the movie when Oscar after asking about the day’s appointments laments that there will be no forest and he likes them so much, interpretation not needed) anyway: it’s pretty clear we are into metacinema territory, we are in the land of , Le Mépris, La Nuit Américaine, Mulholland Dr. and many others. The strength of these movies is that they manage to coalesce the director’s cinematic visions and a (loose but strongly thematic) narrative, the fusion of these elements enriches our understanding of the director’s work and of the times he is living in. If you accept the validity of this starting point the first thing coming to mind is the time in the course of their career these directors have made their incursion into the aforementioned metacinema territory (at the top of their careers); Carax has directed Holy Motors after 13 years without making a film, 13 years of rejected projects – the only similarity is with Mulholland Dr. a film coming to life as such after it was discharged as a television project – Carax brings to life some of these old projects here (and recycles and renews his piece of Tokyo!), he shoots them in digital while the film presents a sarcastic view of the digital age (the best one the Père Lachaise cemetery scene), maybe because though he has finally find someone to finance a new fim, digital is cheaper than film.
Holy Motors is a grim take on both life and cinema and I wonder how much of its take has to do with the state of Carax’s career, I’m not questioning his right to hold such view nor its meaningfulness – after all we are living a time of neverending recession, loss of jobs, disappearance of the middle-class and so on and cinema is an old art form, 40 years ago Bergman was a known person to everyone I knew, nowadays only les cinéphiles know the best living directors – I’m simply questioning la réussite of Holy Motors at representing a meaningful view of our times and of the cinema of our times.

A perplexing film but I quite enjoyed it, 3/5 an anodyne rating where everybody else seems to hate it or adore it.

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