Sunday, November 11, 2012
We know he lives in movies because we literally find him in one. Leos Carax's much-debated "Holy Motors" begins with a man (Carax himself) asleep in bed, then waking and approaching a wall of the room that looks like a forest. Knowing just where to look among the trees, he unlocks a door using a key growing from his finger. Well, isn't that what artists do? Unlock doors with their fingers?
Now this man is inside a cinema, and we meet Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), who lives in a house that seems designed by the same architect employed in Jacques Tati's "Mon Oncle." He gets into the waiting limo, driven by a taciturn woman, and we see that the back of the limo, seemingly much larger inside than the outside, is a dressing room filled with costumes and props. When he gets out the first time, he has transformed himself into a wretched beggar woman. This will be the first of his many roles, or assignments, or embodiments. He performs in bizarre and mysterious ways, linked only by the desire of a mime or comedian to entertain and amaze us. His "appointments" take him into personas so diverse, it would be futile to try to link them, or find a thread of narrative or symbolism. If there is a message here, Walt Whitman once put it into words: "I am large. I contain multitudes."