Leos Carax, aka Alex Dupont (France, 1960), debuted with
the Godard-esque drama
Boy Meets Girl (1984), followed by the more experimental (but still
Godard-ian) film noir
Mauvais Sang/ The Night is Young (1986).
Les Amants du Pont-Neuf (1991), his first mainstream film, is a love
story between two artistic tramps, an alcoholic and a girl who is going blind.
Pola X (1999) is a mediocre and overlong adaptation of Herman Melville's novel "Pierre" (1852) transposed to 1990s Europe.
Pierre lives in an enormous mansion in the countryside with his rich mother Marie,
the widow of a diplomat, who calls him "brother" (and he calls her "sister").
He has a girlfriend, Lucie, who lives with her brother in another rich mansion.
Marie has been getting mysterious phone calls from someone who simply breathes
heavily into the phone.
Pierre's main occupation is to write his second novel after the success of
the first one.
Mother and son don't seem to do much else than smoke cigarettes all the time.
Lucie tells Pierre that their friend Thibault is back and he'll have to meet him.
He tells her about his recurring dreams about a girl.
Pierre meets Thibault, who is actually his cousin, and of course they smoke a cigarette while discussing
the decision that separated them when Thibault took a job far away.
Thibault notices that a weird girl is spying on them and she runs away when
Pierre turns towards her. Pierre gets on the motorcycle and rides around
trying to locate her, and he ends up crashing the motorcycle that belonged
to his father. Back home he tells his mother that this is the same girl that
they found one day rummaging through their garbage. The phone rings and
again nobody speaks. Pierre's new novel is inspired by this mysterious girl.
Marie decides the date for Pierre's wedding and Pierre sets out on the
motorcycle to tell Lucie. While crossing a dark forest he sees the weird girl
and chases her into the woods. She knows his name. She tells him that she
is his half-sister Isabelle, an illegitimate daughter of his father while
he lived in Eastern Europe. She tells him of growing up alone and in poverty.
She says that one day a Frenchman offered
her to live in his nice house with his wife. She was kicked out by the woman
after they had a baby. Then she lived in a farm, working as a peasant. Then
the war started and her mother was killed, and she realized that the man was
her father. Then she traveled to France to find her brother, and now she
lives under a bridge with other homeless
Pierre doesn't tell his mother and doesn't try to find
out whether the girl's story is true: she asks him to believe her and he
He bids farewell from Lucie and tells his mother that he is moving to the
capital city without Lucie. Then he grabs a sledgehammer and breaks into
a door that has been locked since his father's death but finds absolutely
nothing. He tells Lucie that they will pretend to be husband and wife,
and that his new novel will provide plenty of income.
Isabelle travels with two fellow refugees, a mother,
Razerka, and her little girl, Petruska,
also from the wartorn region. Upon arriving
in the capital they have to face the racism of a taxi driver and of the police,
as Pierre gets in a brawl.
Pierre looks for Thibault in a crowded party but
Thibault denies knowing him and has him kicked out.
Nice hotels refuse to take them in and Pierre has to settle for a cheap hotel.
Pierre asks his publisher for an advance, but he has lost his inspiration.
Unseen by Pierre and Isabelle,
a passer-by hits the child who insults him and she hits her head on the stones.
Petruska dies and Isabelle refuses to call the police because they would
deport the child's mother back to her country.
They move to a dilapidated warehouse: the lower floor is a vast sweatshop that employs immigrants but it is also used by avantgarde musicians; the upper floor is a hotel of sorts (with broken windows and no heating).
Pierre is getting depressed but Isabelle seduces him and they have passionate
sex (in a lengthy explicit scene). If she is really his half-sister,
Isabelle hears a radio broadcast about a bomb in the metro that killed
three people and imagines Pierre among the dead, but Pierre is safe.
He befriends the leader of the musicians.
While he is writing frantically his novel, we hear the screeching of his
pen on the paper and we see Marie riding the motorcycle and crashing.
Marie dies. Pierre watches the funeral hiding behind a tombstone.
Pierre is informed that Lucie is very ill, and that Thibault
is taking care of her. Pierre writes nonstop, even in bitter cold weather.
Lucie, who was obviously kept prisoner, runs away and reaches Pierre's place
but Thibault and her brother try to stop her. They beat Pierre, who is saved
by the musicians. Lucie wants to live with Pierre, and Pierre tells
Isabelle that Lucie is her cousin. So Pierre now lives with three women:
Isabelle, Lucie and Razerka.
The publisher requires that Pierre appears live on television but the
interview is a disaster.
the media attack him. Furious, he vandalizes cars until someone stops him
and drives on his foot, leaving him disabled.
A delirious Isabelle tries to commit suicide jumping into a river.
When she wakes up, Thibault is next to her, telling her that Lucie
was Pierre's lover. Isabelle feels deceived.
The publisher rejects his manuscript as plagiarism.
Pierre steals two guns from the sweatshop and steals a van to drive to
his old mansion. He crashes against a bus and has to take the metro.
He limps around the city until he finds Thibault and kills him.
Lucie and Isabelle are looking for him but arrive when he is already being
taken away by the police.
Isabelle commits suicide throwing herself under the ambulance that is coming
to pick up Thibault's corpse.
After a 13-year hiatus, Carax directed Holy Motors (2012)
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