Holy Motors. 2012. France/Germany. Written and directed by Leos Carax. With Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue. 35mm print courtesy of Wild Bunch. In French, English, Mandarin; English subtitles. 115 min.
With a bravura performance by Denis Lavant in a variety of guises (11, to be precise—three more than Alec Guinness in Kind Hearts and Coronets), Carax’s rich and strange Holy Motors imagines a day in the life of an otherworldly man chauffeured by stretch limousine to different appointments throughout Paris, each one more bizarre or bleakly funny or exhilarating than the next. In his film about loneliness, performance, and the act of creation—a film so boundlessly inventive as to defy expectation—Carax makes sly references to E. T. A. Hoffmann, Lon Chaney, Jean Renoir, and Charlie Chaplin, and casts Edith Scob, the star of Georges Franju’s Eyes without a Face (screening on August 8 and 10), as the always punctual chauffeur Céline.