DRAMA; 1hr 55min (French and Chinese with subtitles, English)
STARRING: Denis Lavant, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue, Edith Scob
Life as art: Mendes and Lavant
After opening with a perplexing, David Lynch–worthy dream sequence featuring its writer-director, Leos Carax (Pola X), the wiggy and wholly unusual Holy Motors settles, if that is indeed the word, into the outlandish working day of poker-faced Parisian chameleon Monsieur Oscar (Lavant, in a wow-packed star turn). Chauffeured by an elegant blonde (Scob as Celine) in a stretch limo that is his HQ and dressing room, the dour Monsieur keeps a series of way-out “appointments.” As it happens, Robert Pattinson is currently presiding over his own diverse engagements in his stretch-limo-centric movie, Cosmopolis, but with nowhere near the energy and flair of Lavant: the pocket rocket poses, with utter conviction, as a geriatric gypsy woman beggar, a motion-capture artist and a rampaging, flesh-chomping lunatic who abducts a sphinx-like model (Mendez) from a cemetery fashion shoot.
There’s a great deal more in store, for Monsieur Oscar straddles many sharp-etched and fascinating realities with Celine and the car the only discernible link (a subdued Minogue — and, yes, she sings — appears as a fellow performer). The multiple dimensions eventually take shape as a surreal art-as-life meditation, but Carax’s uncanny strength is his refusal to follow any straight or foreseeable roads.