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Film / Holy Motors

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Holy Motors is a 2012 French-German fantasy drama written and directed by Leos Carax, starring Denis Lavant, Édith Scob, Eva Mendes, Michel Piccoli and Kylie Minogue (in a small part).

Lavant plays Monsieur Oscar, a man not unlike an actor who inhabits several roles, but there are no apparent cameras filming the man's performances.

This film provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Truth in Television, assuming it was shot on location.
  • Actor Allusion: Édith Scob (Chauffeur Céline), starred in the French horror classic Eyes Without a Face (1960). The mask that Céline puts on by the end of the film is a direct reference to this.
  • Beard of Evil: The gnome has one.
  • Beast and Beauty: Discussed and played straight in M. Merde's story, where the gnome kidnaps the supermodel.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Taken literally by M. Merde and his hunger for everything.
  • Creator Cameo: The pajamas guy in the opening scene is director Leos Carax.
  • Deconstruction: Of film in general, and of daily life too.
    • The main character is an actor.
    • His 'deaths' are fake as he has no problem living onward normally after getting stabbed in the neck with a switchblade and later the same night getting shot in the chest several times while entirely shirtless.
    • He goes through several intense moments such as killing a man, witnessing the aftermath of an old friend's death minutes after talking to her, dying from old age with his 'niece' (another actor) by his side, and biting a woman's finger off. Aside from taking a few minutes to himself and having a drink, he is not affected by these events at all. The film itself presents them in an absurd "I don't care" way wherein such things are actually funnier than they are dramatic.
    • He is driven around in a limo and appears to live a life of luxury, judging by his house and small collection of high-end automobiles.
    • Oh yes, his name is "Oscar," an important name in the filmmaking industry.
    • In the final scenes of Oscar's, his "family" isn't a human wife and child, but chimpanzees.
    • After all the limo drivers leave the cars in the car barn for the night, the cars have a conversation with each other about getting older, retirement (possibly forced), and not being desired any more.
    • The lead character "actor" is just as believable in his 'real' interactions with people as he is in his 'in-character' interactions. Do we not all play characters in this life, to many of the people we meet (or, do we treat them as simple, flat characters when we interact with them?)?
    • The movie alludes to all these 'heavy' ideas, but takes it all in stride, even laughing at the matter.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The film plays out within the course of less than 24 hours.
  • Le Film Artistique: Almost to the point of deconstruction.
  • Fingore: The gnome's appetite for fingers comes as a surprise to the casting agent.
  • French Accordion: The scene of a group of accordion players playing their instruments in a Paris church.
  • Foreign Language Title: A French production with an English title.
  • Foreshadowing: Early on we learn that the banker's life is in danger. An hour in, the real banker gets assassinated by the protagonist.
  • Gainax Ending: Chimpanzees cast in human roles and talking cars.
  • Genre-Busting: The film is a collage of different genres.
    • Sci-Fi: Motion capture sequence
    • Thriller: Two episodes are about hitman activity
    • Musical: Kylie Minogue's singing part and the accordion Intermission
    • Drama: The father/daughter episode and the old man dying
  • Identical Stranger:
    • It's not clear, whether the banker was supposed to be a doppelganger.
    • Also the guy at the warehouse, that Mr. Oscar kills and makes over to look like his own character.
  • Impromptu Tracheotomy: The guy at the warehouse gets a knife stabbed in his neck.
  • Mind Screw: The Movie.
  • Not Quite Dead: The guy in the warehouse who was stabbed in the neck by Mr. Oscar.
  • One Head Taller: The supermodel is one head taller than her captor.
  • Public Exposure: The supermodel shoot with the ecstatic photographer constantly shouting "beauty".
  • Raging Stiffie: M. Merde has one.
  • Silent Credits: In true Le Film Artistique fashion the closing credits role without any sound.
  • Sinister Switchblade: A switchblade producing sparks in the scene where the protagonist goes to kill a similar looking guy at the warehouse.
  • Suspiciously Apropos Music: When the father drops his daughter off and tells her to walk home as punishment, the music on the radio afterwards has the lyrics "How you're gettin' home, how you're gettin' home?
  • Title Drop: The neon sign towards the end.