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Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors 
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Post Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Going ahead and posting this a couple days early. Let the discussion begin!

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Wed Apr 10, 2013 8:27 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Holy Motors (2012)

Thinking, Thinking, Thinking. As I sat watching this film, around the 30-minute mark I had all kinds of ideas rattling around in my head: Is this world “our own” or is it a sort of film world so to speak? Who is Oscar? What is the meaning of his actions? I was quickly going down the road of presuming that Holy Motors would be a confusing mind fuck. I thought this film would tire me, drive me mad, and ultimately kill me before it revealed it’s hidden answers to me in a deep-dreamful sleep. However, Holy Motors isn’t a confusing David Lynch acid trip—this film is clear and profound in its messages, and rewards the viewer with a narrative that is constantly changing, but always connected.

In fact, Holy Motors does occupy our reality. A reality set in the near future, where cameras are so small that they cannot be seen. With these conditions actors/ and actresses are assigned to daily appointments where they are given a (presumable) paid role. Our main character Oscar carries out these acting jobs, so to speak, for film agencies that remain hidden and unseen. As I’m typing this I realize that my synopsis makes Holy Motors’ context and subject matter seem a little too simple, yet the film is masterful in adding a grand sense of mystery to its narrative. Director Leos Carax slowly feeds the viewer clues to what is actually going on, while still leaving the audience with plenty of questions and ambiguity.

Holy Motors presents its audience with a lot of material; there is a lot to take in. This film is more than an examination on the future of cinema—its about identity, society, art, routine, and despair. I loved the focus this film gives to the element of identity. Out of all the themes at play in Holy Motors, identity struck me as its core revelation. Oscar, in essence, represents a majority of the emotions that we as humans convey every day. We all put on masks and facades for the people that occupy our social circles and lives. These people (and society) demand for us to fit their image—their assignment or paper folder per se, with all of the things that they want or desire for us to be. In a way we become actors in our own lives. Oscar clearly sees this—he is a man who isn’t bound by personality or appearance. He is a chameleon, a figure that has learned to be who “the agency (society maybe??)” wants him to be. However in the back seat of his limousine, a vessel that feels indicative of our mains characters very soul, Oscar remembers a time where he loved the art form of acting--It's beauty, and its meaning. The viewer can surmise that these radically changing times have caused this art form to loose meaning and reverence.

In one of the most grounded scenes of the film, Oscar plays a father who comes to pick up his daughter from a party. The daughter lies to Oscar’s character about a series of events that took place during the party. Oscar’s character quickly finds out that his daughter has lied to him, and confronts the girl with the lie. When the daughter asks if she will be punished, Oscar’s character replies, “ You already are, you will have to live with yourself.” This scene invokes such an interesting look into the mindset of our main character and his identity as a person. Oscar lives in a world where the lines of reality and fiction are blurred. It seems that it’s hard for him to let go of his character like persona and actually live, reflect, and live with himself in the simplest means of the term. In Holy Motors we never we see the true Oscar, only bits and pieces that glimmer through the make up of his ongoing duties. His humanity is always at arms-length. The viewer doesn’t really know who Oscar is, we only know him by the roles that he carries, the masks that he puts on in demand of others. All of this ultimately works beautifully in Holy Motors, a film that engages and provokes the mind while reflecting on aspects of the human condition.

With a bit of my thoughts posted I would love to post a couple questions to you guys as well. All of which are spoilery.


***************************** Spoilers will follow******************************************************************************************
******************************************************************************************************************************************************************




In the film, we see Oscar killing a double of himself. We also see him shoot a banker that is also himself. What does this mean? Theories?

The ending shows the chauffer of Oscars limousine putting on a green mask and walking away (presumably to “home”) Why does she put on the mask?

Did anyone else feel the ending was just a little too..idk..playful? Cars talking to one another while forcefully putting down a notion that head already been perfectly addressed in the film.

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Thu Apr 11, 2013 1:14 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Just saw it, and before addressing any specific question, I have to say that was one of the most weird-ass films I've ever seen. And I don't mean that as a bad thing. The film was always interesting in its own confusing nature, and emotionally-charged despite the ambiguous nature of everything that's going on. In a way, it reminded me of Mulholland Drive, or maybe even . I might need to give this one a bit more thought.

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Fri Apr 12, 2013 7:50 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Thief12 wrote:
Just saw it, and before addressing any specific question, I have to say that was one of the most weird-ass films I've ever seen. And I don't mean that as a bad thing. The film was always interesting in its own confusing nature, and emotionally-charged despite the ambiguous nature of everything that's going on. In a way, it reminded me of Mulholland Drive, or maybe even . I might need to give this one a bit more thought.


Oh I'm with you, this film definitely has a very "Lynchian" feel. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts Thief, but take your time.

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Fri Apr 12, 2013 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Ok, here's what I wrote about the film...

Quote:
"Your punishment, my poor Angèle, is to be you. To have to live with yourself."

This quote from the lead character in Leos Carax' 2012 film, Holy Motors, is probably one of the most revealing lines of this film. As a matter of fact, it's probably as clear as it's going to get in this bizarre tale of blurred realities.

Holy Motors follows Mr. Oscar (Denis Lavant), a shadowy character whose job seems to be to become a wide array of characters and enact various unusual scenarios. He wakes up as a banker in a heavily guarded mansion, only to become a beggar-woman, then a flower-eating madman, a troubled father, or a killer, among many others. We are never clear who or what Mr. Oscar is, but he rarely seems to be "him". He immerses into his characters with such dedication that there seems to be little to no trace of whoever the real Oscar was. His face is a blank canvas waiting to be painted on.

Oscar is accompanied in his journey by his trusty chauffeur and assistant, Céline (Edith Scob), who drives him from one "appointment" to the other, organizing his "jobs", and even worrying about his health. Céline is a stoic character who keeps her composure through most of the film, but who is visibly affected by what she sees in her boss. Her face seems to be one of the few honest expression of emotions on the film.

The film is clearly not for everyone. From the first scene, we are never sure of what is happening, or what is real and what's not. Impatient viewers might grow weary of all the bizarre twists and turns, while others might get tired of all the confusion around the plot. It is only as the film ends that some aspects of the plot might come to focus, and even then, most of it remains a mystery.

But regardless of how clear or not the film is, one can't deny that Carax has crafted a unique film. There seems to be a meticulous approach to each act, with each one of Oscar's "appointment" feeling like a continuous build-up; each one raising the stakes over the previous one. And just when you think you might have figured it out, Carax pulls the rug from under you. Holy Motors might be confusing, but it's never boring. Its visuals remain long after you've seen it, and the questions it leaves open, will probably continue to boggle your mind.

Another film strength is how emotionally charged it is. In a way, this reminded me of Lynch's Mulholland Drive, in that, even though we're not sure what's going on, we still find ourselves emotionally immersed in the film. Examples of this are the scene between Oscar and Angèle (Jeanne Dison) which I quoted in the opening, or his scene with Léa (or is it Élise?) at a hotel, or the final scenes with Eva/Jean (Kylie Minogue). In that regards, I have to say that I don't think there was a single bad performance in the film.

But special praise has to be given to Denis Lavant. His performance is nothing short of spectacular, and should've been worthy of more praise from the media and critics. Just like Mr. Oscar, it is impressive the way Lavant immerses in each of the different personas. But more than the characters, it's the way he subtly brings emotion during his "limousine breaks". This is a character that's tired, but still trying to make the best out of what he's doing. Someone who is not complacent with being himself, but who also struggles to find happiness in what he used to love... "The beauty of the act".

It would be impossible to have a full understanding of what's going on in Holy Motors, just like it would be futile to weigh it like we do other films. Like the aforementioned Mulholland Drive, or even Fellini's 8½, as the plot progresses, some things become clearer, only to bring up more surreal, or even borderline absurd things. But like I said, the film is never boring. Overall, Holy Motors is a bizarre and confusingly unique film, with an undeniable craft in its directing and performances, and worthy of a watch if you're in the mood for something really, really different. And I mean, really... really different.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:09 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Now, some random thoughts about the film that might touch on some of the questions that James brought...

In the beginning of the film, Céline tells Mr. Oscar that he has 9 appointments. And yet, we see him explicitly reading and "acting" seven roles (beggar woman, CGI guy, flower-eating madman, Angéle's dad, Theo's killer, Mr. Vogan, and the final guy with the monkeys). However, we can add the "roles" that were seemingly abrupt or "real" like his masked-killer turn to shoot the banker (which Céline calls "a mix-up"), or the "accidental" meeting with Eva/Jean, or even the accordionist in the "Entreacte".

As for the two killings, I'm still trying to figure out the Theo one, but the banker one was set-up from the beginning. When he got on the limousine, he was "in character" as the banker and talked about bank stuff with someone on the phone, and scheduled a dinner meeting that night at Fouquet. That's the restaurant where Oscar meets with him later and shoots him.

On that subject, just like Oscar seems to be unfazed by the "murders" and unaffected by being stabbed first and shot later, the same probably applies to Theo or the banker. Everyone seems to be playing a different role in this big "act".

About Céline's mask, I read it was a homage to one of her previous French film called "Eyes Without a Face". I haven't seen it, but someone that has might be able to draw some parallelism, if there's any.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:22 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Well Thief, I guess its just me and you--everyone else must have chickened out. Thanks for being a loyal Film Club Member!

It seems we agree about the film more or less, and have a lot of the same thoughts. Really enjoyed your write up too btw, and thanks again for joining in on the discussion.

Like I said in my write up, I was really confused during the first thirty minutes or so, but after that I thought I was getting a pretty good handle on the film and what it was trying to convey. When "the agency" guy shows up in the limousine with Oscar I finally felt more knowledgeable to a degree. However, I'm still a bit confused by the multiple Oscars per se. Does Oscar have a twin?-- what exactly are we seeing when we see two of him?( like the hit job and the banker)I cant fully grasp what's going on there. Also, what did you think about the ending with the cars? I found it a little heavy handed, and a tad too playful.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 7:57 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
JackBurns wrote:
Well Thief, I guess its just me and you--everyone else must have chickened out. Thanks for being a loyal Film Club Member!

It seems we agree about the film more or less, and have a lot of the same thoughts. Really enjoyed your write up too btw, and thanks again for joining in on the discussion.

Like I said in my write up, I was really confused during the first thirty minutes or so, but after that I thought I was getting a pretty good handle on the film and what it was trying to convey. When "the agency" guy shows up in the limousine with Oscar I finally felt more knowledgeable to a degree. However, I'm still a bit confused by the multiple Oscars per se. Does Oscar have a twin?-- what exactly are we seeing when we see two of him?( like the hit job and the banker)I cant fully grasp what's going on there. Also, what did you think about the ending with the cars? I found it a little heavy handed, and a tad too playful.


I'm just throwing a thought out there, but I don't think it has to be a twin. Remember that Oscar is using makeup to resemble someone else. So, although there is a resemblance between him and Theo, I don't think they're necessarily twins. Same with the banker. Plus, if we go by the premise that everybody is just acting different roles (like Eva/Jean, and Lea/Elise, etc.) then there's a possibility that Theo and the banker guy are also acting, hence wearing some sort of make-up.

As for the ending, I'm still trying to figure what the heck was up with that.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 9:55 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Thief12 wrote:
I'm just throwing a thought out there, but I don't think it has to be a twin. Remember that Oscar is using makeup to resemble someone else. So, although there is a resemblance between him and Theo, I don't think they're necessarily twins. Same with the banker. Plus, if we go by the premise that everybody is just acting different roles (like Eva/Jean, and Lea/Elise, etc.) then there's a possibility that Theo and the banker guy are also acting, hence wearing some sort of make-up.

As for the ending, I'm still trying to figure what the heck was up with that.


I agree it doesn't have to be a twin, I like your make-up theory actually, and it makes a lot of sense.

As for the ending, I thought the cars were basically talking about their own eventual downfalls--how they would eventually be tossed aside, just like the bulky cameras of the past. I suppose these cars, like the actors, are from a world where things can still easily be distinguished, but soon they too will be unrecognizable.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 10:03 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Still organizing my thoughts on this almost a week after I watched it,

Spotted pretty quickly that this is not a plot driven film.

I agree with the Lynch comparison although this isn't as dark as Lynch.

Re: The ending. I strongly suspect it was intended ot be metaphorical or imagined.

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Sun Apr 14, 2013 11:35 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
I will get to see this very soon.

Just in the process of moving home though


Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:01 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Would have made about 3 very artistically beautiful short movies. I suffered quite a bit to make it through to the ending and would have been more satisfied if I'd of just stopped after the 3rd segment or so. None of it was bad, it was just not enough to keep my interest for the whole time.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:50 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Still can't decide how I feel about it. However I must say, it's not like anything else out there now.

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Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:33 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
It was pretty cool that Oscar was able to portray characters that evoke completely different thoughts, images, emotions, etc. from the viewer. There were several animals in the film and they seem indifferent to the individual physical and character traits of distinctly divergent humans, much like we do with animals (at least those we are not intimately familiar with). Several of the actors also exhibit much the same indifference - not sure if that is from burnout, because they know all is not what it seems, or some professional attribute of actors.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:19 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
I've been wondering about how the film portrays life and death. I mean, James brought up the murder of Theo and the banker (both Oscar's "doubles"), and although I stick with my theory that they were probably actors as well, that doesn't explain Oscar's reaction to Eve/Jean "suicide" near the end. Did she really kill herself? or will she stand up like Oscar after the stabbing and the shootout? And if she does, why Oscar's reaction? and why do they say they won't be able to see each other again?

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Sat Apr 20, 2013 9:06 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Hard to really tell with this movie. Since she beat him back to the bottom it either had to be real or she had a double down there. There are so many times in the movie where Oscar appears quite depressed in between roles and that the other actors look depressed, either in character or because they don't care anymore that an intentional suicide in performance of a part wouldn't be surprising. Or perhaps they are controlled by someone, or something, that compells them to perform to the death like Gladiators. A very artful movie, but vague enough that I think any theory you want to throw at it could be right.


Sat Apr 20, 2013 5:18 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Sadness, tiredness, forced compromise, disenfranchisement -- it's hard to grasp exactly

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Mon Apr 22, 2013 6:03 pm
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
Holy Motors (2012)

I agree with the comment on the roles that are foisted on Oscar, and how that relates to the ones foisted on us. Holy Motors was heavy going, and any review is going to run the risk of crassly simplifying it. But the basic premise for my money is how Oscar has become a hollowed-out shell of a human being as his days are spent playing out the life-roles bequeathed to him by the mysterious forces of existence itself. And as a result is now lost; a stranger to himself.

I can't pretend to have immediately grasped the symbolism of Oscar killing his double. Perhaps this represents a kind of dream or wish on some level. Perhaps he felt that if he kills enough projected or false versions of himself, he'll eventually find the real him.

The film is sad. An air of regret and melancholia haunts the movie pretty much from the first minute. His first role - as the gypsy beggar - hints at Oscar's empathy for people who live without hope. His evil Green Man (who looks like Lenin mated with a leprechaun) hints at a fear, or perhaps even a desire, to be outcast by this society.

I get the feeling this is an intensely personal project, and many attempts to objectively rationalise it are doomed to failure. Fortunately for the director, he really can make a film look good. And Holy Motors looks quite incredible for the most part. But whether the Director's reach exceeds his grasp is up for debate.

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Tue Apr 23, 2013 5:18 am
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Post Re: Film Club Discussion: Holy Motors
I agree that it is probably intensely personal. It almost seems as though the car is a personal space where the individual(s) can be themselves, while outside they either become who they wish to project or perhaps even sometimes cracking and displaying behaviors they are driven to (pun intended) by outside pressures. Sometimes these projections are snuffed out (pun again intended), sometimes not. But truthfully, I am not at all certain if there is any intended theme through the movie.


Tue Apr 23, 2013 10:08 am
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