What can you say about a movie that's finest sequence involves the lead character dressing up as a mad leprechaun, violently kidnapping Eva Mendes during a photoshoot, eating her hair and dressing her in a burka while she sings him a lullaby that procures a fully exposed erection?
It's hard to do justice to Holy Motors or one's opinion of it, given the daring and surreal nature of the beast. Here is a selection of the feelings which made their way onto this reviewer's semi-legible notepad at various stages - fresh, dangerous, unique, David Lynch on crack, over-indulgent, impenetrable, absorbing, frustrating, incredible and incredulous.
Leos Carax's movie certainly throws up a few oxymoronic reactions along the way and there will be those who relish its magnificent qualities and others who storm out and demand a refund. Both stances are understandable, but if you care about cinema as an art form you should support films like this.
His day involves dressing up to play various roles in seemingly real scenarios, such as a beggar, an assassin, a family man and the aforementioned leprechaun. There's also a motion capture sex scene that looks like the video for 'Tainted Love' by Soft Cell.
Each sequence is bookended by a stint in a limousine in which Oscar assumes his next identity with the help of various prosthetics, make-up and clothing located in the car. These moments of transformation are spellbinding, providing a meditation on the nature of performance and highlighting Lavant's stunning chameleon qualities.
The dark and dreamlike deeds that transpire once he sets foot outside the limo vary in their effectiveness. They either engage or alienate, but always make you feel uncomfortable and adopt an inquisitive disposition as you try to construct meaning.
In addition to the outstanding Denis Lavant and Edith Scob, who plays Oscar's mysterious driver, the supporting cast all make their mark. After her song 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head' blasts out from a party, Kylie Minogue appears in a sombre segment - but not as herself. How very metatextual! She provides a haunting presence as an apparent former lover of Oscar and even belts out a song.
Leos Carax, who both wrote and directed Holy Motors, is clearly a formidable filmmaking force and it's important that his creative urges are allowed to roam freely and unshackled. While this film will amuse and bemuse in equal measure, it instills you with the feeling that literally anything could happen next... and the startling final reel definitely proves this point. You just can't get this movie out of your head...