The film, which is truly unlike anything you’ve ever seen, stars French actor Denis Lavant as a man named Oscar, who can best be called an actor. He travels around Paris in a white limousine/dressing room, in which throughout the day he uses to change into multiple costumes, often including elaborate makeup and prosthetics.
But he isn’t just acting- at each stop, he’s performing an actual scene from a movie. And they’re movies of multiple genres, from crime to tragic romance to avant garde performance art.
From what I’ve read about the film, several of these are supposed to represent specific references to past films by the director and other French filmmakers. That all sailed over my head, but I was able to appreciate “Holy Motors” just on the strength of the individual segments.
Highlights include a scene in which Lavant and an actress are outfitted in motion-capture suits and pretend to have sex; an out-of-nowhere interlude in which a group of musicians parades around with accordions, and a strange melodrama involving Kylie Minogue, which turns into an out-of-nowhere musical number.
You may not understand “Holy Motors,” but then understanding isn’t really the point. It’s one of the more purely entertaining pictures of the year.