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Holy Motors Blu-ray Review

  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Resolution: 1080p/24 (24Hz)
  • Audio Codec: French Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English
  • Subtitles Color: White
  • Region: A (Region-Locked)
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • Discs: 1 (1 x Blu-ray)
  • Digital Copies: N/A
  • Run Time: 115 Mins.
  • Studio: Indomina
  • Blu-ray Release Date: February 26, 2013
  • List Price: $39.95

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]

Click thumbnails for high-resolution 1920X1080p screen captures

(All TheaterByte screen captures are lightly compressed with lossy JPEG at 100% quality setting and are meant as a general representation of the content. They do not fully reveal the capabilities of the Blu-ray format)

The Film

[Rating:4/5]

One sitting through writer/director Leos Carax’s first feature since 1999’s Pola X, Holy Motors, could leave one with the impression that he is either a genius or clinically insane. Completely casting off any sort of linear storytelling or conventional plots, the film simply follows a day in the life of Oscar (Denis Lavant) as he inhabits different characters as a part of his job. Donning elaborate costumes, makeup, wigs, and clothing, Oscar is chauffeured around Paris by longtime friend and colleague Céline (Edith Scob) to different spots where he portrays various individuals and characters, among them an old lady begging for money on the street, a motion capture actor in an erotic love scene, and a sewer-dwelling urchin named “Merde” who falls in love with a supermodel (Eva Mendez) he kidnaps away to his underground lair.

Trying to develop an interpretation of Carax’s film is as hopeless as coming up with one for, say, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil the nearest correlation that popped into my head. This is a madcap comedy that flits from one vignette to the next with no seeming thread. But yet, there does perhaps seem to be an allegory here. Maybe Carax is thumbing his nose at the growing influence of reality television in popular culture. There seems to be a suggestion in the film at one point that Oscar is acting for “tiny” cameras, but we are never really sure. Perhaps Holy Motors is an essay on modern voyeurism and escapism, the need to live vicariously. Or maybe it is just a roller coaster ride of a film that defies explanation.

Video Quality

[Rating:3/5]

Holy Motors was shot in high definition on the Red Epic camera. This should have yielded a rather clean, crisp, detailed high definition image on Blu-ray, apart from some digital anomalies that can creep in from time to time like video noise and posterization depending on production values, etc. Unfortunately, the film was encoded on a single-layer, BD-25 disc in MPEG-2 at a low to mid bitrate (it often drops as low as ~8Mbps and peaks at ~20). Viewing this, I felt like I had fallen asleep and woken up in 2006. What’s the excuse for taking a film shot on a 5K resolution cinematographic HD camera and squeezing it onto Blu-ray with an ancient codec at such low bitrates? In any case, the image looks rather soft and noisy at times, there is some banding that can be spotted, and colors hardly pop. The audio, as you’ll see below, isn’t much better.

Audio Quality

[Rating:2.5/5]

They’ve strapped this release with a French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. I’m flabbergasted. First the video is shoehorned onto a single-layer disc with the space-hogging MPEG-2 codec, then they hinder the audio quality by using the lossy Dolby Digital codec. I suppose a lossless codec would have taken up too much space, but, still, this is ludicrous in 2013! Anyway, it’s not like this mix is any sort of showcase mix, but the sound definitely does seem a bit stifled. At least the dialogue is clear and free from clipping. However, there are only subtle atmospherics in the surrounds and the soundfield doesn’t seem natural.

Supplemental Materials

[Rating:2/5]

Supplements are limited to trailers, a 45-minute “making of” and an interview with Kylie Minogue, who still looks quite fetching, I might add.

The supplements:

  • “Drive-In” Making of Holy Motors (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:47:28)
  • Kylie Minogue Interview (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:13:22)
  • Domestic Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)
  • International Trailer (1.85:1; 1080p/24)

The Definitive Word

Overall:

[Rating:3.5/5]

Love it or hate it (I tend to fall into the former category), this is one film that will surely be discussed for many years to come. It isn’t easily categorized or referenced. It spans so many genres (comedy, drama, farce, fantasy) and has no clear plot, yet it somehow clicks. This realization came to me during the scene between Merde and the supermodel when Merde, obviously in love with the model, rather than doing the expected thing a “beast” would do and attack her, tore her skimpy dress into shreds and turned into into a burka, then stripped naked. Now he was the vulnerable one. It was an odd scene, but it somehow grounded the film in a contemporary reality where it hadn’t been until then. I knew then and I know now, that Holy Motors will mean something different to everyone who watches it, which is really its brilliance.

Additional Screen Captures

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BestBuy.com:
Holy Motors - Widescreen - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Holy Motors on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

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BestBuy.com:
Holy Motors - Widescreen - Blu-ray Disc

Purchase Holy Motors on Blu-ray at CD Universe

Shop for more Blu-ray titles at Amazon.com

Overall
[Rating:3.5/5]
The Film
[Rating:4/5]
Video Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Audio Quality
[Rating:3/5]
Supplemental Materials
[Rating:2/5]


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