Thursday, August 5, 2021

Annette - Review


The film opens with a few requests, including the proclamation that “breathing will not be tolerated.” And while a bizarre, acid-trip of a rock opera should leave you breathless at certain times out the sheer audacity of its ambition, Annette leaves you short of words most of the time. A sense of bewilderment as to how this whole thing is supposed to fit, and how its own trove of ideas often gets in the way.

Henry (Adam Driver) is a stand-up comedian with a fierce sense of humor who falls in love with Ann (Marion Cotillard), a world-renowned opera singer. Under the spotlight, they form a passionate and glamorous couple. With the birth of their first child -- a mysterious little girl with an exceptional destiny -- their lives are turned upside down.

First and foremost, no one can ever deny the ambitious vision of director Leos Carax. It oozes from every second, every frame of this very strange film. But as often happens with the aspirations of a wild project, its ideas get away from it. Outside of a stellar opening musical number, nothing outside of a few visuals here or there are even worth noting, resulting in a mishmash of concepts and music that never come together.

Saying that, Adam Driver is phenomenal as Henry. A twisted Bo Burnham style comedian whose moment of fame is slowly dwindling, Driver captures the helplessness and insignificant feeling of a man being left behind. On the sure to be forgotten side is Simon Helberg, who gets notably less to do, but shines in the moments he does get. If the film were simply a musical about the downfall of Henry, there might be something there, but there are too many other odd ball ideas thrown in that put it on a whole different wavelength that’s hard to get on board with.

Annette will undoubtedly work for some people, but clearly not everyone. It’s certainly not all bad, but the general good ideas gets brought down by trying to fit too much into 2 hour and 19 minute runtime. If you’re looking for a solid Adam Driver performance, a sure to be underrated performance from Simon Helberg, and a whole heap of weirdness to go with it, go ahead and give Annette a watch. If not, probably best to skip this one.

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