Lydia Roberts’s review published on Letterboxd:
#1 in 2021
pleb filter of the year
very much the logical end point of everything the Maels have been doing all the way up to Lil Beethoven and from that point since, just as this is the next logical step for Carax after Holy Motors -- and what's truly astonishing is that this really DOES feel like a collaboration, half Ron&Russ, half Leos. Insane how this movie operates. Even crazier is how good it is. So May We Start sets off something so explosive and so thrilling, undeniably the most excited I've been at a movie in months. Oh my god I can't imagine this not on the big screen (ESPECIALLY with how fucking good all the sound work is). Driver's best performance. And now I seriously intend to never forget who Marion Cotillard is. Even Simon Helberg is just terrific, if a little underused. And most stunning of all is the titular Annette. I truly felt like Herzog w/ Baby Yoda. I could not stop looking.
If there's a problem here it's, shockingly, on Sparks' end. This comes very much at the perfect time for me as a recent Sparks obsessive (but an obsessive nonetheless) but the insistence on telling the entire story through song (a la Umbrellas of Cherbourg) does cripple the project, though understandably tempting. Songs go from perfect to middling and the narrative has awkward, uneven story beats that make Annette feel every minute of its 140 minutes.
Still though -- this is a tragedy and on a level it works anyway. The reverberations of just about everything are hitting 24 hours later (& am deciding it's just that good and I'm adding +5 in spite of my problems). Even more tragic is that people aren't watching this on the big screen!! totally love this when it's at its best.
The mixed reception is expected and understandable but this is highly rewarding if you let it be and is far and away the most unique movie we're gonna have all year by a country fucking mile. Go see it.