Annette is a magical, glorious and delirious musical tragedy.
Annette comes from a concept album idea from the band Sparks, who are having a mainstream moment thanks to this and a documentary that was directed by Edgar Wright. The band met Carax in Cannes when the director was premiering “Holy Motors” and he had used a Sparks song for that movie and their collaboration began.
(There are some spoilers in the review below.)
Leos Carax directs a wonderful Marion Cotillard (Ann). She’s a revered opera actress. The audience loves her as much as her accompanist. She’s accomplished and always gives more on each subsequent performance. Her audience is captivated and in awe, at one point her boyfriend, Adam Driver (Henry) gets to see her the finale of one of her performances and you bear witness to him realizing (confirming?) that she’s the better part of the relationship.
Adam Driver plays Henry. Henry is a stand up comedian. He’s the opposite of Ann. His onstage persona is a robe wearing always smoking angry, confrontational smart eloquent and hostile comedian. Basically he’s Bill Hicks with a robe and a great body. Now, there is no way to confirm this but the basis for this assumption comes from the fact that he goes after the audience a couple of times, the self deprecating humor, the constant questioning of why is he funny and why would.anyone find him attractive. The dick jokes. He gets shot onstage.
They get engaged. They get married. They get pregnant. The baby comes along. The stress fractures the fragile relationship. They go away from the spotlight to rekindle their love. Tragedy strikes. A return from the ashes looks possible. Magic and wonder ensues. Self inflicted tragedy strikes again.
It’s in the third act that the movie gets surreal. And magical. And tender. Almost dreamlike before human nature and it’s shortcomings take over and replaces those tender feelings with a hopeless self inflicted tragedy.
The more I think of the movie the more I remember things and the more I find moments that stayed with me permanently.
Obviously the music is the most fundamental aspect of the movie and it doesn’t let down from the start with the aptly titled “So May We Start” at the beginning of the movie that, literally, sets you up for what’s to come. To the voyeuristic romance of “We Love Each Other” to the sociopathic “I’m an Accompanist” to the loving “True Love Always Finds A Way” and “Aria” to the personal favorite “You Used To Laugh” to the tragic “Let’s Waltz in the Storm” and lastly all of the Annette songs “We’ve Washed Ashore” and the “Premiere Songs”. There isn’t a bad song in the whole movie. The performances are impecable. It’s a musical and a tragedy and a comedy and a drama and an opus all into one.
Go watch the movie and let it live within you. Give it the space it needs to breathe and grow.