Weird and Wonderful: The Cinema Of HOLY MOTORS Director Leos Carax

Dustin Chang, Featured Critic
The Toronto International Film Festival is about to launch a retrospective celebrating the work of Holy Motors director Leos Carax, arguably the most important, or at least interesting, working French director. The director's triumphant return to the cinema with Holy Motors last year after a 13 year absence from feature filmmaking is indeed a cause for celebration, and a perfect opportunity to revisit his singular career. The TIFF retro will include all 5 of Carax's feature films: Boy Meets Girl, Mauvais Sang, Les Amants du Pont Neuf, Pola X and Holy Motors.

Over the last 30 years, Carax has made only 5 features, along with a couple of shorts, music videos and some cameo appearances in other directors' films -- Jean-Luc Godard's King Lear (1987), Lituanian auteur Sharunas Bartas' A Casa (1995) and Harmony Korine's Mister Lonely (2007). No prizes for guessing that Carax's career hasn't really been smooth sailing. Once hailed as an heir apparent to French New Wave and extraneously grouped by critics with Jean-Jacques Beineix (Diva) and Luc Besson (La Femme Nikita) as one of the leading figures of Cinema du Look, a pop art movement that relied heavily on style in French cinema scene in the 80s, Carax was one of those bright young talents who fell victim to too much hype too early.

But I'm so very glad that Carax is back in the cinematic realm. Out of years of frustrations and financial hardship, he created something different, energetic and magical without ever losing his deeply personal, self-reflexive filmmaking style. He might not make films about young love that spoke to my heart so dearly anymore, but for the people who are just discovering the works of this shy little Frenchman, this retrospective will provide the window to the world that is just as fantastic as Holy Motors -- the precious world of being young and in love.

With Holy Motors topping most of the Twitch staff's year-end lists and TIFF about to embark on its retrospective, now's a perfect time to take a tour of Carax's romantic, eccentric and always fascinating body of work, from his features to the music video he directed for former French first lady Carla Bruni.  Click through the gallery below to explore.

*The TIFF retrospective will run from August 9 - 15 and will feature Q&A's with Carax himself (a rarity!) at select screenings. For more information, visit the official website.
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