“The new film was born of my incapacity to carry out several projects, all of them in another language and another country,” explains revered director Leos Carax of his first feature in 13 years, Holy Motors. The consolidation of disparate ideas into one motion picture is at once evident and enthralling: a captain of industry called Monsieur Oscar (played masterfully by French actor Denis Lavant) is driven to a series of nine appointments by his faithful chauffer, Celine (Edith Scob), between them altering his appearance and identity, serially and seamlessly taking on parallel lives. Homeless old woman, digitally body-mapped martial artist, unhinged sewer-dweller, deadbeat father, brutal assassin, and romantic lead in a musical costarring Kylie Minogue are among the indentities he inhabits in the course of a single day.
Not since 1999’s POLA X has Carax been able to wrangle the casting and the cash to create such a full-fledged theatrical feature, and the impact with which Motors takes to the screen could easily be seen as his raison d’être. Through his protagonist’s delirious journey, Carax creates nothing short of a fantasia of celluloid delights: a dreamlike, incandescent love letter to Paris and the history of French cinema—and a magical return for the master of French New Wave. It is not to be missed.
Holy Motors is in theaters now (November 2012)