Holy Motors has received a lot of acclaim in the cinephile world. I first heard about it from Film Crit Hulk, who put it at No. 1 of 2012, and Hulk wasn’t alone. It enjoys a 90% Tomatometer score and was in contention for the Palme d’Or. For me though,… I wasn’t feeling it.
For a good summary of what this movie’s about, read Roger Ebert’s review (he also liked it). For me, it felt like an extended Twilight Zone episode without a concluding moral payoff. It is a deeply original and ambitious vision, and I have a great deal of appreciation for it on that level. At the outset I was fascinated — completely captivated. But around half-way through I began to feel that an essential personal narrative was missing, that our hero was not experiencing growth in any profound way. David Denby of The New Yorker puts it this way: “Holy Motors has no motor: the movie keeps starting over again.”
There are some great sequences in this movie. But, as hard as it is trying to strike great and timeless themes, Holy Motors is on a road to nowhere. It strives to be a movie entirely about the human soul, while simultaneously soulless. At least that’s how I felt about it the first time around watching it last night. I’ve said something else about movies: please give me something memorable. I won’t be forgetting this one any time soon. Bear in mind that I didn’t care much for Mulholland Dr. the first time around, so my initial impression can, in rare instances, develop over time. There were factors in favor of Mulholland Dr. that I do not believe benefit Holy Motors, so I doubt it. We’ll see. 4/10
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Note: This movie is in French with English subtitles, but there is relatively little dialogue so, as foreign as this movie is on all sorts of levels, its language is the least you have to worry about.
Comparison Notes: Not Recommended: Blade Runner; Recommended: The Skin I Live In, Wings of Desire, The City of Lost Children, Eraserhead, Synecdoche, New York, Antichrist, Breaking the Waves, The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild