Holy Motors – Review

The movie had my attention from the very first moment when the man asleep in bed wakes up to approach a wall or the room that resembles a forest. He seemed to have played the “Find Waldo” version of opening the door often, as he knew just where to look to unlock the door using a key growing from his finger. This is when I knew that I was in for a ride.

He gets into the waiting limo, driven by a taciturn woman, and we see that the back of the limousine is significantly larger than it seems on the outside, similarly resembling the tents in Harry Potter. The back of the limousine is filled with costumes and props with even a dressing mirror installed. The first transformation, the first of many to come in the day, takes place as he dresses up as an old lady begging for money in the streets. When he gets out the first time, he has transformed himself into a wretched beggar woman. His performance was nothing short of superb, fooling everyone that walks past him in the street, or perhaps it was because no one ever really cares for the poor. His succeeding performances or embodiment get even more bizarre, with him embodying the spirit of his characters as if it were himself. His “appointments” take him into personas so diverse, it would be futile to try to link them, or find a thread of narrative or symbolism. If there is a message here, Walt Whitman once put it into words: “I am large. I contain multitudes.”

One of the more memorable moments in the film was shortly after when Oscar bit the finger off of the famous fashion designer and kidnapped the model to an underground tunnel. It was there that Oscar ripped her clothes to change her to look like a Muslim woman. The model doesn’t flinch much in the process, as she stays in character of her job as a model – staying posed and not reflecting any emotions. Her job as a model preceded her emotions as a person, a statement that this movie seem to make of how our society has forced us to embrace our jobs as a large part of our self identity. Sometimes it constitutes our entire self.

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