‘Annette’: It Sings Itself Into an Abyss

The English language debut film of French director Leos Carax is ambitious but it just does too much to work that falls unbelievably flat.

CREDIT: UGC Distribution

It’s finally here after premiering at this year’s Cannes Film Festival where it received a standing ovation (even though that seems to be tradition at this point for most movies at Cannes). French director Leos Carax creates his first English language film with the help of Sparks duo Ron and Russel Mael. The film is shot by Caroline Champetier along with music created by Sparks themselves. The film received raving reviews at Cannes especially many praising the performances by our leads. One can definitely agree that there was some anticipation for this film especially for fans of Carax and his last film Holy Motors.

Annette stars Adam Driver as, Henry McHenry, a comedian on a steady downfall in his career and life and Marion Cotillard as Catherine Defrasnoux a successful and beautiful opera singer who fall in love, get married, and have their first child. It is after they have their child that they face a slew of problems ranging from bad communication to jealousy. The film also stars Simon Helberg and Devyn McDowell who show off an incredible range of performances in the film. The film is definitely heightened by the performances included along with their singing abilities.

Now, let’s get one thing covered before we get into what this movie is doing. Annette is bizarre, ambitious and at times both of these characteristics are what helps the film stand out, but it is also what makes the film stay convoluted. The film succeeds in getting its message across about power hungry jealous men who are not content with their life and career, so they must manipulate those around them to help keep their career alive. It is exactly who Henry is and who he realizes he became by the end of the film. The film also has some stunning cinematography that is elevated by some genius production design. Everything from the lighting setups to the set pieces really help create the atmosphere of the film.

After all that well you are probably asking, “well what did not work for you then?” Everything else basically from story to music to pacing just did not work. I am a firm believer that a musical should at least be good in the music department, and even though I am sure that the Sparks have made some good music the music in Annette was just uninteresting. It helped create its atmosphere but at times it felt very out of place within its story where it should be helping service the story. As mentioned before, Driver and Cotillard are magnificent performers but the music just does not work for the film to execute itself.

The story of Annette is interesting but because of its off pacing it just does not seem to ever capture more than it is grasping. The themes are far more interesting to digest than this convoluted story that just does not find its footing. A lot of that is to blame for a very dragged out second and third act that just keep going and going. If the film could have been shaved down 30 minutes I think it could have worked better but who knows when the pacing is only one part of multiple problems this film finds itself in. Now, you’re probably thinking that I just did not like this film at all? Well, I found it to be just fine because its ambition even though it is what limited it at times is what I think pushes it to be a good film. There is a lot of love and care within the film that just helps create this bizarre flick and because of that it is worthy of that praise. Even though there is a lot ground that can be improved Leos Carax does a good job of creating a very stylized film that only he can make.

Annette is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.