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Holy Motors (2012)

Year: 2012
Director: Leo Carax
Country of Origin: France, Germany
Rating: NR
Time: 115 mins.

Holy Motors is in the limited and elite category of films that is recognized and revered more for its innovative story than its actual execution. So rarely are there films that can truly sweep and intoxicate the audience with its sheer audacity in storytelling. Sadly, I had not heard of Leo Carax till Holy Motors came out last year as it was the subject of much hype during Cannes Film Festival and AFI-FEST. And to my surprise, I had seen his work Merde in the cinematic triptych Tokyo! back in 2008, along with other shorts by Bong Joon-Ho and Michel Gondry. In Merde, his long time collaborator Denis Lavant appears as this socially inept creature who roams and terrorizes the city, devouring flowers left at graves and smoking incessantly with his disfigured fingers.  And in Holy Motors, not only is he a one man show that transforms himself into more than a dozen characters but he resurrects his previously monstrous role from Merde

I had only seen Denis Lavant previously in Merde and then again as Charlie Chaplin in Harmony Korine's outrageously idiosyncratic film Mister Lonely. But when witnessing Lavant transform into different types of people with extremely distinct personalities, it is jawdroppingly convincing it makes you wonder if any other prestigious actor would be able to possess and accomplish what Lavant has just done on screen for the entirety of the film without missing a beat. Maybe given the opportunity, possibly even Meryl Streep and Daniel Day-Lewis would be able to pull off a stunt like this but even then, I'll only believe it when I see it. At only 5'3, Lavant is larger than life with his talent and performance bursting at the seams, ready to give more notably revered thespians a run for their money and probably win!

In the beginning of the credit, Kylie Minogue's name appears which made me question if it is in fact the same Kylie Minogue that we all know. After patiently waiting till the end of the credits, I had not seen anyone who had remotely resembled the 90's pop star that I once danced along with on MTV. With the help of the rewind button, I had realized that she had completely disappeared into her character because of the make-up of old age and of course, decent acting. It seems as though the French have been dominating in the genre of absurdist surrealism. Or maybe I'm just generalizing considering I just saw Quentin Dupieux's Rubber only a week ago. But they do share many of the same filmic qualities and it must be noted that the French really know how to create such worthwhile surrealist films that can even surpass Luis Bunuel's filmmaking antics. With such homages to classic films, like Eyes Without a Face, it is a downright pleasure to say that Holy Motors is a wholly wild and courageous experience that should not be missed. B+

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