Appearing in an on-screen prologue, director Leos Carax (Pola X) sets up this unclassifiable film-poem as his own dream, and what follows is as cryptic and unpredictable as that premise might suggest. The episodic plot concerns a mysterious figure (Denis Lavant, Carax's frequent alter-ego) who assumes about a dozen separate identities over the course of a day, each of them inhabiting a different movie genre. Though imaginative and often very funny, the film communicates morbidity and defeat, which might reflect not only Carax's skepticism about the future of cinema but also the recent death of his partner, actress Yekaterina Golubeva. Lavant counters the despair with an extraordinary performance, giving each character a distinct body language and emotional register and conveying a joy of showmanship for its own sake. With Edith Scob, Michel Piccoli, and pop star Kylie Minogue. In English and subtitled French.