“Holy Motors” is the most unusual movie I’ve seen this year by a factor of 1,000. It’s also by far the best limousine-based film of 2012, easily topping the dreadful “Cosmopolis.”
I knew nothing about “Holy” before viewing it last night, save for the fact that Denis Lavant had received critical acclaim for his performance. To say the least, it was an interesting movie to get up to speed on.
It was fascinating. Ultimately, it wasn’t a movie that affected me deeply, though I’ll confess to watching it rather passively and not making the effort to draw out what its deeper meaning might be. Profound weirdness can be as distancing as it is intriguing, after all. I was left with feelings and impressions — fatigue, yearning, mania — rather than interpretations. But I imagine it could be a very rich movie for those who put in the work. In any case, it’s not a movie that will disappear from your memory.
In a sense, “Holy Motors” is a bit like advanced placement “Cloud Atlas.” Both movies use an actor or actors playing multiple parts to help make connections, but while “Cloud” hits you over the head with those connections, laboriously so, “Holy” leaves you to fend for yourself.
Lavant won’t sniff the Oscars, but I could easily see someone going, “This is the best acting performance of the year.” It’s remarkable work and incredibly challenging, and I’m not sure anyone, from Daniel Day-Lewis on down, did more or better. The film, at a minimum, is an actor’s showcase.