Encapsulating the entirety of the dazed human mind with its vivid patchwork of images, sounds and ideas, Holy Motors exercises its full time freedom to do whatever the hell it wants to do just because it can. The film begins with Director Leos Carax himself, entering a movie theater, stumbling blindly representing a direct commentary on how cinema can reflect the way of life. With its enigmatic and idiosyncratic vignettes, this film reflects how life can sometimes be both a dream and a nightmare, just like how cinema portrays it to be. Carax, the meteoric genius of the modern cinema, crafts a piece of art with film as its language but deeming it as more than just about an appreciation of film. This 2012 French-German fantasy plot showcases a man inhabiting several roles with no apparent cameras filming the man’s performances. Having several role assignments for the day and the pressure to carry each one out the best way he can– lead character Monsieur Oscar played by Denis Lavant, puts his heart and soul into everything, bearing the emotional transformations, losing and gaining identity for each scene he plays.
Acting and filmmaking are prominent themes as it showcased a variety of themes per vignette ranging from documentary to science fiction to drama to musical to thriller. Extravagant camera techniques accompanied the various genres in the scenes such as cinema verite, slow motion, quick cuts and melodramatic camera movements. These stories bursting onto the screen, projects the vast imagination of a director’s mind and projects it through the catastrophic sacrifice of the actor to give out everything he can to satisfy these cultivated imaginations. This can showcase the reality of how difficult an actor’s life can be at the same can represent the difficulties in human life as we all give out an immense amount of energy just to portray the multitude of roles we possess.
One scene showed a man, presumably to be Monsieur Oscar’s boss or director, wherein they discussed about what makes actors carry on with their job. Monsieur Oscar discusses how cameras are now shrinking and the absence of it gives him less motivation to do his job. The absence of a visible camera can represent a message regarding how people nowadays, lose their purpose. An actor, having trouble believing in his own acting, given the absence of the camera can show how everything must have reached up to an ambiguous place now, where we do not even believe in ourselves because no one actually watches or guides us. The entire responsibiliy falls entirely on ourselves and every single day, we try to get as much energy to experience different roles and assignments, just to carry on through the day. We do things on a routine but we lose the intrinsic purpose of it. Carax puts Denis Lavant for quite a number of changes in character and the ambiguity itself posts a question to the audience regarding what really constitutes an identity and what constitutes a purpose. Or maybe, as alienated human beings, we actually do not even care about our identity nor our purpose. We just live to see everything through, one day, one role at a time.