‘Annette’ movie review: An irresistible tower of song

A still from ‘Annette’  

What a year it has been Adam Driver! After playing a probably rakish squire in medieval France (The Last Duel) and the heir to a fashion empire (House of Gucci), in Annette, he plays Henry McHenry, a provocative stand-up comic.

In his English-language debut, Leos Carax uses music and magic realism to tell a tale of love, success, failure, creativity and destruction. Carax won the Best Director Award at Cannes 2021, where Annette was the opening film.

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Henry sweeps soprano Ann (Marion Cotillard) off her feet. A whirlwind romance, a wedding and baby later, Henry comes apart, having a very public meltdown on stage while Ann continues to wow the world with her talent. No one, however, seems to notice that the baby, Annette, is a marionette.

The film also looks at celebrity and the possible modern-day obsession with it. The music, scored and written by pop rock brothers Sparks, fits smoothly into the narrative. Annette is gossamer-light as well as heavy-metal raucous and everything in between.

  • Director: Leos Carax
  • Cast: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg
  • Story line: When a provocative stand-up comic marries a successful opera singer and they have a gifted child…
  • Run time: 140 minutes

Constantly throwing you off balance, Annette has the audience on its toes trying to figure how to classify this genre-defying rock opera. The sets have a touch of enchantment, looking by turns like two-dimensional cut outs and plumbing layered depths, which is all the more shocking as the shiny smooth facades crack to reveal life in all its vibrant, messy glory.

Driver and Cotillard set the screen on fire as the couple so in love with love to the extent of destruction. Driver is all manic energy (singing during oral sex is just one example) while Cotillard is ephemeral. Simon Helberg plays the accompanist holding a torch for Ann.

There have been musicals dealing with different aspects of couples, stardom and the loss of it, and magic marionettes but rarely, if ever, has it all come together in an irresistible tower of song.

Annette is currently streaming on MUBI


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Printable version | Jan 24, 2022 12:47:10 PM |

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