If I’m being honest, I didn’t like Holy Motors as much as everybody else seems to. It’s not a film that can be dismissed easily, but it’s frustrating how adamant it is in undermining itself, always remaining one step behind its ideas and never quite achieving what its visionary facade promises. I enjoyed watching it quite a lot, but feel like I left the film empty-handed; there really isn’t much to mull over. Leos Carax’s film appears very enigmatic on the surface, but is actually very clear about the details of the stories it’s telling, and suffers from their weaknesses and incoherence. It goes so far as to explicitly explain Oscar's occupation and intentions - though his employers or his audience are never revealed - but it never convinces us to care about him or enjoy his work any more than he does. It is disjointed, rather than segmented, in its narrative and this lack of connection from sequence to sequence prevents Motors from making an emotional impact. It’s clearly a deliberate choice to make these episodes wildly different, but a choice that doesn’t pay off in the end.
But without a doubt, Holy Motors’ strong suit is Denis Lavant’s marvellously amorphous performance. Virtually present in every scene but the opening, Lavant towers over the film with his peerlessly committed work. He morphs into every character with gusto, creating equally believable creations from a frail old woman to a teenage girl’s stern father and a hit man. It’s a methodically masterful work, but also a moving one. The only moments where the audience connects with the film is Oscar’s most personal ones, where Lavant reaches beneath the surface to give depth to an otherwise aimless man.