Beauty and the Beast

To see Holy Motors and Skyfall in the same week is the cinematic equivalent of eating surf and turf.

Holy Motors is preoccupied with cinema, fantasy and representation, how we create images, and how they in turn create us. Every sequence is rich with cinematic tropes: the car, the girl, the gun, the gangster, the impossible love. There is, in fact, a lot of Bond in Holy Motors. And a lot of Holy Motors – its wistfulness and open savagery, perhaps – hidden in the latest installment of Bond.

Indeed, both films present the viewer with images of beauty and ugliness. Skyfall juxtaposes Silva (Javier Bardem), and his ravaged body with the exquisite Sévérine (Berenice Marlohe). Meanwhile, Holy Motors unwinds a sequence in which Oscar abducts Eva Mendes from a graveyard fashion shoot. He has donned a monstrous disguise for the appointment. As the kidnapping unfolds, a spoofed tennis-white-clad photographer utters the words  “beauty” and “weird” like orgasmic mantras. He could be talking about Silva and Sévérine.

Berenice Marlohe’s indelible nails

On a more trifling note, both films present the viewer with the spectacle of iconic nails. Beatrice Marlohe’s nails have etched themselves into cinema history. Was Sévérine’s doom sealed by their sheer impracticality and length? She is not alone: witness Eva Mendes and Denis Lavant in the aforementioned sequence of Holy Motors.

Eva Mendes and Denis Lavant, Claws and All

What does this tell us? I don’t know exactly, but I sense something feral at play. All this surf and turf comes at a price. Is that blood on my claws?

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