In 2008, French director Leos Carax directed "Merde," the centerpiece segment of the film Tokyo! The story featured a trollish redhead in an ill-fitting green suit who popped out of the sewers at odd moments to nastily harass the general populace. Apparently, Carax wasn't finished with this charming creation (played with crazy-eyed abandon by Denis Levant), because he shows up again in Holy Motors. He still lives in the sewers, but now he pops up onto the streets of Paris, eating bouquets left on graves and staging an assault on a fashion shoot. Oh, and he's also not exactly real. He's a character played by one Monsieur Oscor, who rides around the city in a white limousine, taking on various roles assigned to him by...someone. Over the course of a single day, Oscar plays a bent beggar, a mo-cap actor, a scolding father, a murderous thug — you get the point. No? You don't get the point? Maybe it will become clearer when Oscar apparently assassinates himself. Twice. There's a lot of potential in the notion of a man slipping into other people's stories for a single scene, and Levant gives his all to the performance(s), but the film's willful refusal to adopt anything resembling a frame of reference can prove exhausting. There's a reason why Oscar's fellow "actor" is surprised to see that he's still in the business after all these years, and why he keeps drinking without stopping for dinner. 2012.

1.0 stars

— Matthew Lickona

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