From the first moments of the ambitious, sometimes stubbornly weird, sometimes magical film Annette, from director Leos Carax and writer/composers Ron and Russell Mael, known together as Sparks, you already know you’re in for something different and original. Carax talks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, then the entire cast and crew get together and walk through the night streets singing ‘So May We Start?’.
If you know the filmmakers, you know to expect the ambitious and the unexpected. Carax (best known for 1991’s instant French classic, The Lovers on the Bridge) has a singular, imaginative aesthetic that can always be depended upon to transcend genre and create a stir. The vastly under appreciated Mael brothers have been releasing groundbreaking music for over 50 years, blending the sensibilities of rock opera, art rock, and electronica with lyrics referencing Shakespeare or acerbic relationship insights, and often both in the same song. These two forces collide with stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard who come ready to do their best work in a musical story that, whether you love it or hate it, will stay with you for a very long time.
Annette is, at a guess, 95% singing, not only by Driver and Cotillard (with Catherine Trottmann dubbed in as her operatic singing voice) but co-star Simon Helberg and pretty much any audience or crowd with which they interact. It’s about fluffy, shallow subjects like the interior vs. the exterior, fantasy vs. reality, the destructive force of fame, the damage done to artists in the limelight by outside perception and their own inner demons, and the transitory nature of life and love.
To read the review in its entirety, go to AWFJ.org HERE.