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Cannes Review Capsule: ‘Holy Motors’

Cannes Review Capsule: 'Holy Motors'

“Is ‘Holy Motors’ the most bonkers film ever?”

That’s the headine in The Telegraph about the first surprise hit at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. French director Leos Carax’s first feature since 1999’s “Pola X” received little of the pre-fest anticipation that greeted the new films from Wes Anderson, Andrew Dominik, and Abbas Kiarostami. But judging from the wildly enthusiastic critical frenzy that met “Holy Motors” after its first Cannes screenings, Carax may have trumped them all, and now looks to hold the pole position in the chase for this year’s Palme d’Or.

Reporting on the film and its rapturous reception, The Telegraph‘s Anita Singh describes some of “Holy Motors”‘s batshit crazy scenes: “The new offering from Leos Carax features Eva Mendes allowing a man called Monsieur Merde to eat her hair, two bonobo chimps playing house in suburban Paris, an extended scene of cybermonster sex and some talking limousines, to name but a few of the film’s surreal moments. There’s also a musical interlude from Kylie Minogue as a suicidal air hostess.” (Oh, is that all? I thought you said this movie was bonkers.) At the post-screening press conference, Singh says Carax was asked what the scenes involving Mendes’ character — where she is apparently “kidnapped from a Parisian cemetery by the sewer-dwelling Monsieur Merde who licks her armpit” — are meant to represent. “How would I know?” he coyly replied.

“What the heck does it all mean?” asks Peter Bradshaw in a five-star review from The Guardian. “Perhaps it is a bravura exercise in pure imagination.” Bradshaw says that whether or not “Holy Motors” wins the Palme — and he thinks it has a shot — it already represents exactly what the Cannes Film Festival should be about: “something different, experimental, a tilting at windmills, a great big pole-vault over the barrier of normality by someone who feels that the possibilities of cinema have not been exhausted by conventional realist drama.” Amongst the madness, Bradshaw spots many cinematic influences: David Lynch, Fritz Lang, Gaspar Noé, and Stanley Kubrick just to name a few. That’s a pretty impressive list of directors; to capture something of all them in a single film is no small feat.

Charles Ealy from the Austin Movie Blog is a bit more sketpical about “Holy Motors”‘ chances at the Palme d’Or, and a bit less effusive in his praise. He sees the film as “an allegory about the roles people play, about acting, about moviemaking, and about French cinema. Some of the set pieces are startling, and some are moving.” Though he isn’t surprised that the film played well to French crowds who adored Carax’s early films like “The Lovers on the Bridge,” he says “it’s hard to see it playing to wide audiences in the United States.” Are you telling me Eva Mendes getting her armpits licked by a sewer troll isn’t the stuff of mainstream popcorn entertainment?  “Poppycock!” I say, while stroking an imaginary pointy mustache.

Most of the rest of the reviews so far are of the “ZOMFG it’s so good” variety. Megan Lehmann of The Hollywood Reporter calls it “exhilarating, opaque, heartbreaking and completely bonkers.” David Jenkins from Little White Lies says it’s “bold, romantic, and hilarious.” Glenn Heath Jr. from Press Play goes with “brilliantly human and purposefully silly.” At this rate, the Internet is going to run out of adjectives before the film ever premieres in North America — which will hopefully be soon. It’s going to take an adventurous distributor for sure, but from the sound of all these postive reviews, there should be an audience bonkers enough to enjoy this thing, in one dimension or another.

Instant Twitterverse Reaction:

Logan Hill, GQ:

“Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’ was a holy mess of nutso go-for-broke filmmaking — wild, surreal and fully committed. Crazed applause to match. #cannes”

Jeffrey Wells, Hollywood Elsewhere:

“Just got out of Leos Carax’s ‘Holy Motors’… holy moley! Holy Eva Mendez, Kylie Minogue and Michel Piccoli! Dali/Bunuel/Carax live large.”

Scott Macauley, Filmmaker Magazine:

“In the most original (and personal) of ways, ‘Holy Motors’ feels like a film made for this exact moment in time. #Cannes”

Aaron Hillis, MovieMaker Magazine:

“‘HOLY MOTORS!’ ‘HOLY MOTORS!’ ‘HOLY MOTORS!’ ‘HOLY MOTORS!’ ‘HOLY MOTORS!’ ‘HOLY MOTORS!’ Best of #Cannes thus far, Carax’s ‘Mulholland Dr.’ (More soon.)”

Eric Kohn, Indiewire:

“‘Holy Motors’ wins Palme d’WTF at #Cannes 2012. Life, death, accordions, monkeys. Carax, always a bit nutty, finally flies off the rails.”

The trailer for Leo Carax’s “Holy Motors”:

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