Kylie Minogue said on Wednesday she shed her popstar skin to step on screen in Holy Motors, a wackily experimental parable on life's futility that has shot to the front of the Cannes race.
The Australian singer plays two bit parts in the film by French director Leos Carax, the visually stunning journey of a man who slips actor-like into constantly shifting identities, greeted as both "exhilarating" and "bonkers".
"I kind of stripped myself of being Kylie and wanted to go back to be as basic as possible, and pretty much be a blank canvas for Leos," the singer told a press conference ahead of the film's red-carpet premiere.
"It felt good to be back on set," said the singer, who started out as a television actress, breaking through in the Australian soap opera Neighbours, before launching her pop career.
"I took it very seriously, I basically banned my entire entourage from coming with me."
One of 22 films racing for the Riviera festival's Palme d'Or top prize, Holy Motors drew hollering applause — and quite a few boos — at a press screening Tuesday night that ignited an online storm of critical debate.
Carax's picture notably features a flame-haired troll carting off a fashion model played by Eva Mendes to his underground den, a duo in motion-capture suits miming a sex scene, and an intermission by a band of jamming accordionists.
"Exhilarating, opaque, heartbreaking and completely bonkers," was how the Hollywood Reporter summed up the movie.
"It's brave and foolish," wrote the magazine, saying the film "immediately bolts to the front of the pack in the race for the Palme d'Or and into an elated tempest of debate and speculation."
Britain's The Guardian described it as "weird and wonderful, rich and strange — barking mad".
Minogue said she met Carax through a mutual friend, the French director Claire Denis, and that he knew virtually nothing of her pop career, save for a duet she sang with Nick Cave, "Where The Wild Roses Grow".
"It was like starting on fresh ground, he wasn't clouded by anything else that I do," she said.
"Yes, it's a bizarre meeting of us two," Minogue agreed when quizzed about her tie-up with Carax. "But I was more than happy and excited to venture into this strange experience."