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Holy Motors

By ROBERT HAM
The end of the year is the time when studios truck out their most prestigious fare: films with fat ideas, scenery-chewing acting and screen-filling spectacle. Yet with little fanfare, the arrival of one strange, poignant and thoroughly unshakeable piece of cinematic art has managed to emerge as the best film of 2012. It couldn't have come from a more unlikely source: Leos Carax, the visionary French director whose last feature, Pola X, landed with such a resounding commercial and critical thud in 1999 that, until recently, no one would hire him. So with nothing to lose, and the financial backing of a half-dozen production companies, Carax went for broke on Holy Motors, using nearly two hours of screen time to comment wryly and sharply on the state of film and the entertainment industry. The main story follows M. Oscar (the craggy and lithe Denis Lavant, in a bravura performance), a gent who drifts through Paris in the back of a limousine and adopts various guises along the way. He emerges from the limo as an old woman begging for change on a bridge, a motion-capture artist in a skintight bodysuit and, in the most memorable sequence, as a mentally unstable homeless man who eats flowers and manages to kidnap Eva Mendes. By commenting on each era of the film industry—from its earliest experiments to modern CGI—and by using some of its reference points (look for the nod to the 1960 classic Eyes Without a Face at the end), the director urges viewers to remember how potent and indelible the art form can be.
 
  • Genres: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
  • Running Time: 116 minutes
  • Release Date: Wednesday, July 4, 2012
  • Country: France
  • Language: French
  • Critic's Score: A
  • Starring: Denis Lavant [], Edith Scob [], Eva Mendes [], Kylie Minogue [], Elise Lhomeau [], Michel Piccoli [], Jeanne Disson [], Léos Carax [], Nastya Carax [], Reda Oumouzoune []
  • Directed by: Léos Carax [Director], Léos Carax [Screenwriter]
  • Watch the trailer
 

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