So let's talk about Cannes films that came totally out of nowhere to surprise us with how brilliant they are. Last year that slot could so easily be filled by either "We Need to Talk About Kevin" or "Drive", films that journeyed beyond the beaten path to find something exciting and new. I hesitate to say the year prior was for "Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives", since that film has faded from memory a great deal since, and only really got attention due to Tim Burton's fancy for it.
In any case, the Cannes surprise is a well honored tradition to come in one shape or another, and this year seems to have finally delivered one such artifact to us in the form of Leos Carax's "Holy Motors". I have little to no knowledge of what the film is about, who is involved, or where it is coming from, but the sudden eruption of enthusiasm surrounding it is not something you turn your nose up at. Of course there's still "On the Road", "The Paperboy", "Mud", "Cosmopolis", and others to stir up the pot, but we may have our Palme D'or champion already.
Guy Lodge (Time Out London): "Weird, yes. But even at its most wilfully absurd (let’s just say chimpanzees are involved), there’s something fragile, tender and even truthful about Carax’s hall-of-mirrors irrationality, the sense of an artist so weary of decayed human realities that he has no choice but to twist them into the more beautiful shapes afforded by cinema. By the time the film ends with Scob subtly referencing the character she played 52 years ago in ‘Eyes Without a Face’, you might feel an involuntary shiver down the spine – it’s hard to say what forces are propelling this ecstatic, idiotic, fizzy, frightening provocation, but we’re moved by them too."
David Jenkins (Little White Lies): "Narratively, there’s very little than links one vignette to the next, but it’s Lavant’s technically astounding performance that allows the tones, themes and a very loose, obscure story arc to coalesce with acrobatic magnificence. Holy Motors showcases Lavant as the closest thing modern cinema has to a Lon Chaney Jr, an actor willing to transform his entire body for the purpose of each role. This film operates as a summation of the entire Carax-Lavant collaboration."
Megan Lehmann (Hollywood Reporter): "Exhilarating, opaque, heartbreaking and completely bonkers – French auteur Leos Carax’s so-called comeback film, Holy Motors, is a deliciously preposterous piece of filmmaking that appraises life and death and everything in between, reflected in a funhouse mirror. It’s brave and foolish. After a rapturous reception at its first Cannes screening, the bewitching French-German co-production immediately bolts to the front of the pack in the race for the Palme d’Or and into an elated tempest of debate and speculation."