Directed by Leos Carax (Holy Motors) and featuring a soundtrack created by The Sparks Brothers, musical Annette tells the story of Henry, a stand-up comedian who falls in love with a world renowned opera singer named Ann. Though they appear as a glamorous couple from the outside, the birth of their daughter turns their lives upside down. Not fit for all audiences, Annette is a surreal, grandiose musical that is full of allegory yet manages to pull you in with its bizarre charm.
Written by Becca Johnson
Annette's shining star is Adam Driver (Blackkklansman). He has once again proved that he is one of the best actors working today, as he delivers every line with grace and emotion. Even though Henry McHenry is an unlikeable character, theres something about Driver's performance that lures you in. Marion Cotillard (Inception) is the perfect match for his talent and though she's often under-utilised, her vocals are gorgeous and she creates a character that it's impossible not to root for. It's also fun to see Simon Helberg (The Big Bang Theory) tackle this role; he gives a terrific side performance as an ex-lover and friend of Ann.
There is no denying that Annette is an utterly bizarre watch. The lyrics are full to the brim with metaphors, allegory and social commentary. Through song, the movie aims to give its audience messages about the portrayal of relationships in the media and objectification amongst many other topics that may be less obvious. It's undeniably bold and brave yet suffers from becoming style over substance. It's hard to fully get behind a movie that is difficult to understand, and though it is atmospheric, it will be nothing short of a chore for some audience members. This one purely comes down to personal preference.
The Sparks Brothers Ron and Russell Mael have definitely made their mark on the music industry, and their soundtrack for Annette is catchy and cool. Some tracks definitely work better than others and there are easily stand-outs including So May We Start and We Love Each Other So Much. Luckily, the actors vocals carry the music well enough for them to have an impact. The lyrics often believe themselves to be wittier than they are and other songs may be a little be too repetitive, but the soundtrack is nothing short of a blast.
Visually speaking, Annette is divine. It's evident that hard work has come to play in every aspect from the cinematography to the costume design. There are many gorgeous scenes to feast your eyes upon, and cinematographer Caroline Champetier even excelled in making a sea storm look divine. Some artistic visual choices are a little odd, such as young Annette being a puppet rather than a person, but the whole thing comes together to create a piece of art that's unconventional yet also makes sense.
Annette is not a musical that will work for everyone. It's eccentric and out there, with lyrics that won't make perfect sense and messages that feel forced at times. However, its charm is undeniable, and the right audience will have a terrific time. The songs are catchy, the performances are exceptional and though Annette may not be the best movie of the year, it is easily the most unique.