So what is HOLY MOTORS about?
I get asked that question every time I talk about Leos Carax's wonderful film. And the fact that people ask it tells me something interesting. For most everyone, narrative is the most important aspect of cinema. They need to know what they are committing to before they sit down to a movie. Everyone does to some extent. I do it. So I understand the need for people to know just how to make HOLY MOTORS fit in that respect. I think people are more risk-averse to movies now more than ever.
It wasn't always thus. For many, the world is just too complicated for them to sit down to something truly unique and explorational; they'd rather just see something so they can escape from the troubles of the day. And that's perfectly acceptable. But true film fans ache for something to challenge them, to show them something they've never seen before, to introduce to them ideas that they had never considered. HOLY MOTORS does all of that.
The movie is actually quite intimidating to me - I have opinions about certain sections of the film and what they mean, but I'm almost embarrassed to say because I might be wrong. It's definitely not a casual film. It demands your attention and thought. But at the same time, it is also a celebration of everything we love about cinema and its true power to take us to places we've never been before. I want to see it again very badly, and I want it to transport me as it did that first time.
So what is HOLY MOTORS about? Stripped down, it's about one man (Denis Lavant, in one of the most amazing performances of the year), many identities, and how those identities fit into the larger scheme is best discovered in the course of the movie. But it's also about just what great cinema can do. It's also a movie that you just have to let happen to you. Simply trying to crack the narrative means you're missing some great stuff.
I realize that most of this sounds like pretentious horseshit, but HOLY MOTORS really isn't. It's a beautiful piece of art that should be experienced, and for me, HOLY MOTORS proves that cinema, pure unfettered cinema, is as relevant as it has ever been. Here's the US trailer: