I can say without hesitation that Leos Carax‘s Holy Motors is not just one of the best films I’ve seen this year, but one of the most impressive I’ve seen in a long time. The movie rocketed to the top of my list at Fantastic Fest in the past two weeks, and it is one that I have continued to think about in the days since my first viewing. That seemed to be the case with almost everyone I talked to at the fest, and the organizers responded by adding multiple additional screenings, each of which created new admirers for the picture.

There is a trailer, which we ran some weeks ago, but I would advise most people not to watch it. The trailer is good, but it presents a rather different vision than the movie actually represents. Which, in many ways, is in keeping with the film. But I went into Holy Motors mostly blind and unaware, and was very happy I did. I really hope people see this movie, because I think it will capture the imaginations of most who do see it, but it’s not the sort of thing that makes for an easy sell.

I’ll say this: actor Denis Lavant, who plays the film’s central role, outdoes not only his own excellent previous work, but the work of nearly every other actor I’ve seen on the screen this year. I can see ways in which Holy Motors is not for absolutely everyone, though the film isn’t truly as strange as it first seems. But Lavant’s performance is one of those beautiful, living, thriving things that you only see every few years. He’s exceptional in a role that is varied, and very demanding. And, yes, the encounter with the figure pictured in the center of the poster is an unusual and memorable one.

Check out the first US poster for the film below.

Hitfix debuted this poster. Holy Motorsplays the New York Film Festival on October 11, and hits the city with a regular engagement on October 17. It starts to go out to other cities on November 9. So when you can’t get into the opening night show of Skyfall, you’ll have a great alternative. A synopsis is under the poster, but I’d advise you don’t read it.

From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the life of Monsieur Oscar, a shadowy character who journeys from one life to the next. He is, in turn, captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man… He seems to be playing roles, plunging headlong into each part – but where are the cameras? Monsieur Oscar is alone, accompanied only by Céline, the slender blonde woman behind the wheel of the vast engine that transports him through and around Paris. He’s like a conscientious assassin moving from hit to hit.

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