By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
It seems like every year at the Cannes Film Festival, some film that you never see coming blows the socks off of critics and stays in the conversation all year. Last year, that film was The Artist, which rode its accolades all the way to a Best Picture Oscar. This year, that movie is Holy Motors.
I wouldn’t be expecting that Oscar, though…
This movie is difficult to define, but I’ll give it my best shot. A mysterious man drives around Paris over the course of a day, stopping periodically for “appointments” in which he masquerades as a range of characters spanning from an old beggar woman to a CGI sex monster. It’s never clear why he’s doing this exactly, or what it all means, but that’s part of the fun.
To properly enjoy this movie, you have to just go with it. And if you do, it will take you on a hell of a ride, unlike this year’s OTHER demented, philosophical day in the life limo ride movie.
Because, yes, there are two of those this year
Dennis Lavant stars as the man of many faces, undertaking possibly the most difficult acting job of the year, and one of the most impressive I’ve witnessed. He’s asked to act out this incredible range of characters while simultaneously making them believable and conveying the meta idea that he’s acting on two levels, in Holy Motors and in whatever strange performance piece he’s a part of in the movie. And he does an incredible job of it.
What’s going to leap out at most viewers, though, is how incredibly bizarre the film is. It features doppelganger murders, terrifying CGI sex scenes, fucking awesome random accordion-driven musical interludes, and Monsieur Merde, a troll-like dirty bastard who abducts a supermodel played by Eva Mendes in order to recreate Michelangelo’s Pieta with her in a burqa and him sporting an enthusiastic erection. Don’t ask why, just roll with it, all the way to the best surprise ending ever.
Besides the nightmares you’re pretty much a cinch to get from that goddam CGI scene, you may find the meandering, Godard-esque nature of the film annoying. While I have little use for Godard (if you want to flush 266 minutes of your life away, go watch Histoire(s) du Cinema), I was very much on board with this. I will admit, though, it does feel a bit overstuffed, and dragged a bit at points. A beer will help with that.
However you take it, you’ll certainly want to talk about Holy Motors after. The best I can make of it, the film’s based on Shakespeare’s aphorism “All the world’s a stage.” Holy Motors is a bizarre, engrossing stage indeed, and one I’ll certainly be revisiting.
Drinking Game (with contributions from Mitch Hansch)
Take a Drink: every time Lavant changes “characters”
Take a Drink: whenever any of Lavant’s characters smokes.
Take a Drink: whenever anyone gets (or appears to get) physically harmed.
Take a Drink: whenever something pants-shittingly bizarre occurs
Down a Shot: for any musical sequence.
Do a Shot: whenever you think you have the movie figured out