Holy Motors

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Holy Motors Movie Poster Image
French drama is mature and strange, but also sad and lovely.
  • NR
  • 2012
  • 115 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

It's tough to know what Holy Motors is actually saying, but one possible theme is the sad, lonely lives of performers, giving up their own identities and taking on others' on cue. Characters don't seem to learn much, except that we see them growing weary of such a life.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is a highly skilled actor and performer who takes on several different characters and occupies them completely. This level of skill is admirable and inspirational, but the character himself is rather sad and lonely and growing weary of his existence.


The main character plays a creepy monster in one sequence, with a milky-white eye and a crazy walk. He bites off a woman's fingers, with blood. Later, he kidnaps a model, licks her armpit, and smears blood from his lips there. Characters are stabbed in the neck, with streams of spurting blood. A man is shot at a sidewalk cafe, with more blood. Two figures are shown splattered on the sidewalk, having jumped from the top of a building. Characters die, and there are conversations about death. There's also some strange, unsettling, and potentially scary dream/nightmare imagery.


The main character appears fully naked for long moments, with an erect penis. An attractive woman appears in a latex motion-capture outfit, and the main character wears a similar outfit. They engage in sensual touching (breasts) and licking (crotch area). Later, their performance is turned into a brief, computer-animated scene of lovemaking dragon-like creatures (complete with animated penis). Another woman appears in her bra and panties.


The French "merde" is used twice, and the subtitles translate it to "s--t." "Moron" and "idiot" are also used.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main character smokes cigarettes regularly. He slowly starts drinking whisky over the course of the film; in one scene, he appears to be drunk. The mood is one of despair and regret, rather than humor.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Holy Motors is a very strange yet poetic, sad, lovely -- and mature -- movie from highly respected French director Leos Carax. Violence ranges from unsettling dream/nightmare imagery and discussions of death to killings, spurting blood, and dead bodies. There's also graphic male full-frontal nudity (including an erect penis) and other strong sexuality. Language is mild but includes two uses of the French "merde," which the English subtitles translate as "s--t." The main character also smokes several cigarettes and gets drunk on whisky. Holy Motors is bizarre enough that only the most movie-crazy teens will even be interested in seeing it.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byShivom Oza July 14, 2013

Holy Motors (2012) Review by Shivom Oza - Awe-striking, Awe-inspiring, Awe-some

The film, Holy Motors, directed by Leos Carax, competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. It revolves around a day in the life of Monsie... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymike12345678 February 15, 2016


i saw the film on greek television and it is age rated 15+
Teen, 17 years old Written bySean Broucek August 11, 2013


Parents, this indie drama is probably on your teen's radar, because of the fascinating plot and intense heart-pumping violence, but the strong sexual situa... Continue reading

What's the story?

A mysterious man called Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) spends an entire day and night riding around Paris in a limousine, changing into various costumes and different makeup for several "appointments." He portrays an elderly female beggar, a gangster, a creepy monster, and a dying old man, among others. The performances don't seem to be for anyone in particular, or maybe they're for everyone. But Monsieur Oscar seems to be growing more and more weary of his profession. He reaches a kind of turning point when he accidentally runs into a woman (Kylie Minogue) who may have been a former love and who seems to be doing the same kind of job. Her fate begins to raise new questions for Monsieur Oscar. Should the show go on?

Is it any good?

HOLY MOTORS is deeply felt, but it also comes with a certain unsettling quality. Perhaps the most mesmerizing, poetic, baffling, and elusive filmmaker in France, Leos Carax has completed only five feature films in 28 years, yet all of them, including this one, are quite unlike anything else ever made. Carax seems coolly fascinated by nightmarish ideas -- including the return of a disturbing creature from the 2009 anthology film Tokyo! -- as if he's deliberately trying to shock his audience. This quality can prevent viewers from escaping completely inside the movie's universe.

Yet there's no denying Carax's romantic, passionate side. Songstress Minogue appears (and sings) in one moving sequence, and Edith Scob plays the warm, compassionate limo driver Celine. In Carax's best film to date, The Lovers on the Bridge (1991), his grandiose passion transcended the movie's squirmy side. Holy Motors doesn't reach those heights, but it's quite amazing nonetheless.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Holy Motors' sexuality. How is sex portrayed? Are any of the scenes disturbing? Why? Parents, talk to your teens about your own values regarding sex and relationships.

  • What's the impact of the film's violence? How does it contribute to the story?

  • Do you think a movie like this would ever (or could ever) be made in the United States? Why or why not? How does it compare to other foreign films you've seen?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love offbeat movies

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