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Annette Kellerman From Fantastic Fest 2012: HOLY MOTORS!!


I heard from a few reliable sources that HOLY MOTORS was the one film at 
Fantastic Fest that was not to be missed.  It's always a bit tricky when a movie 
is built up like that, and I admit that my expectations were very high.  While 
my friends trumpeted the films greatness, they also admitted that HOLY MOTORS 
defies description and that I would just have to see it myself. I guess this 
should've been a big red flag for me, because I can describe it as a beautiful 
yet confusing goose chase.  The goose chase is in finding any semblance of a 
The film opens with an esoteric sequence in which our main character, Mr. Oscar, 
wakes and uses one of his fingers that is actually a sort of key to open a 
secret door that leads to the balcony of a theater where a completely motionless 
audience is watching a film.  Yeah.  This pretty much sets the bizarre tone for 
the rest  of the movie.  The next sequence shows Mr. Oscar leaving a modern 
mansion and getting into a white limousine to begin the workday.  It is soon 
revealed that the limo is stocked with a never-ending array of costumes, wigs, 
and facial prosthetics that he uses for each assignment he finds in a mysterious 
notebook.  Each time he exits the limo, he is transformed into a new character 
and embarks on an entirely strange new scenario. 
From begging on the street as an elderly hag to kidnapping Eva Mendes as a 
flower eating leprechaun, the tonal shift between each assignment is incredible.  
One of the segments featuring Lavant as an accordian playing ringleader of a rag 
tag kind of marching band was a definite highlight for me.  The film is 
beautifully shot and Denis Lavant's performance as the mysterious shape shifter 
is staggering. 
My problem is that the film ultimately lacks any kind of order, thread, or 
narrative that ties the whole journey together.  The result is that the film 
comes off as an unintentional anthology and not a cohesive story.  There is no 
story.  Even the individual sequences lack an actual plot.  So, while it is 
visually amazing and well performed, the overall effect is just a jumble of 
confusing ideas and potential that is never quite realized. 
I really wanted to love this one and be part of the cool crew who count it as a 
favorite, but unfortunately HOLY MOTORS just didn't do it for me.  If you are a 
fan if bizarro films, this one might just be right up your alley, but don't say 
I didn't warn you. 
I'll be back for more Fantastic Fest madness throughout the week! 
Annette Kellerman 
Readers Talkback
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  • Sept. 23, 2012, 10:07 a.m. CST

    The whole film was about acting though, not narrative

    by red_weed

    The film recently cam out here in Australia and I went on a whim. It certainly sticks with you. While I agree that there's not real narrative I think that's missing the point of the film which was more about he art of acting and the relationship of the performance to the viewers and how they respond. In that sense, as a surreal abstracted piece of art, I didn't need a narrative from it, I thought it made some interesting points to think about from the very nature of film itself, which has been enough to tide me over. Although I'm a stickler for narrative too...

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Nice camel toe

    by eoneon

    sounds interesting to me

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:51 a.m. CST

    surprised you didn't mention Leos Carax at all

    by beamish13

    you know, the director of HOLY MOTORS. If you haven't seen Les Amants du Pont-Neuf or Boy Meets Girls you can't call yourself a cinema fan.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 11:58 a.m. CST


    by annettekellerman

    Yep, you're right. I should've mentioned Carax. To bad he only makes a film every decade or so.

  • Sept. 23, 2012, 12:18 p.m. CST

    re: annettekellerman

    by beamish13

    Well, he directed a segment in the excellent anthology film TOKYO!, which HOLY MOTORS has a strong connection to.