Sunday, April 13, 2014

Holy Motors: Angéle and Papa


When viewing Holy Motors for the first time in class, I was asked to comment on a scene to "pick apart."  The scene that stuck out for me is the scene directly after the famous "Leprechaun Scene."  The scene "begins" with the main actor driving a shabby car, smoking, listening to american music, and looking worn and tired.  I say begins in quotation marks because it's hard -- or even impossible -- to tell when one scene ends and another begins.  The man proceeds to pick up a girl, who we find to be his daughter.  He kisses and caresses her as a loving father would, we learn her name is Angéle.  But with my earlier "discovery" of his character being an insane, creepily sexual, naked leprechaun, I was disturbed and severely uncomfortable that this young girl was in a car alone with him.  It's interesting that if I had seen that scene without the earlier one, I would have viewed the interaction of Angéle and her papa much differently.

The scene continued, and I became comfortable with this version of the main character as being "real," and thus I was no longer disturbed by his proximity to the young Angéle.  My comfort only lasted so long, however, when their argument began.  Angéle was originally going to be picked up with a friend, Sonia, but tells her father Sonia left with her mom because she was bored.  Her father observes that Sonia is usually so "easy-going."  The truth comes out that Sonia was still at the party, and it was Angéle who was not enjoying herself.  She admits to her father that she spent the whole night hiding in the bathroom, and lied on account of pride.

Angéle's father is furious.  What caused my discomfort was root of his frustration.  Naturally, I felt he should be upset that she lied, but as he chastises her, it seems he is more upset that she did not act as "easy-going" as he thought she should have.  There are several comments said by Angéle that reveal her own poor self-image, and those by her father which hint at the root of her insecurities.  Angéle tells her father she hid because she is not popular, or attractive.  He attempts to assure her she is beautiful, but poisons the comment by calling her a moron for thinking the opposite.  Then he further injures her by comparing her with her more-popular friend, Sonia.

The scene ends as he pulled up to their house, his eyes full of tears ( of regret? frustration? anger?).  He told Angéle he must punish her for lying.  She sat in her chair, her arms crossed over her chest in a self-depricating posture.  He tells her that her punishment is to "Be you.  To live with yourself."  More damaging words could not have been spoken to a child.  When Angéle got out of the car and her father drove on to cool off, my heart was so heavy.  I know way too many girls that have people cut them apart with simple words like that, sometimes totally by accident.  I wanted to go up to him and tell him exactly what his daughter was feeling.

As the man drove at the end of the scene, I started to think about what kind of life he must have lead to bring him to a place of such damaging emotional immaturity.  So many adults end up hurting their children because of hurts they experienced in their own childhood.  Even as the scene transitions into a limousine segment, he continues to show his frustration and emotional state form the "Angéle & Papa" scene.  In the next scene all of us, the viewer, the man, the film, are allowed a time to work out our frustrations as the accordion scene begins, and music fills our ears.

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