August 23, 2021

SCREEN | Adam Driver Sings Hard – Birthing 'Annette'

"The truth is being in love makes me sick."
Adam Driver Sparks Leos Carax | Annette | Amazon Prime Video
Amazon Studios / MK2 Mile End
French director Leos Carax of Holy Motors fame teams up with musician brothers Ron and Russel Mael from the band Sparks, who came up with the story/concept and co-wrote the script and music for the film, for an original musical journey of fame and passion starring Adam Driver (also a producer). Annette is a bizarrely surreal film skewering Hollywood through a uniquely French perspective for an ultra toxic version of the classic A Star is Born formula about both rising and fading stardom.

Driver plays a seemingly shock stage comedian with a fiercely dark sense of twisted humor who falls in love with Ann (Marion Cotillard), a classically renowned opera singer. Firmly in the Los Angeles spotlight, they form a wildly passionate and glamorous couple. How the birth of their child, the eponymous and mysterious Annette, turns their lives upside down in a series of ultra dramatic events reminiscent of a doomed romantic epic makes the frux of the film's story.

Co-starring Simon Helberg as Ann's conductor, the Annette commits to its odd sense of surrealism where people unironically sing their feelings as they're happening. All of the cast, none of whom are trained singers, nonetheless sing their dialogue straightforwardly.

Everything about Annette makes it into a operatic dreamscape of musical melodrama of narcissistic anxieties and artistic self-loathing. However, things never rise from the film's terrific opening sequence headlined by Sparks' "So May We Start?" where Carax in meta-fashion corrals his cast into singing together as themselves like a cinematic curtain-raiser or overture. Sadly, things never meet such a fine start full of cinematic energy.

Annette screens at both the VIFF Centre and Rio Theatre. It's also available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

More | YVArcade / AV Club / Indiewire / Polygon

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