Annette

Annette ★★★★★

at one point during ANNETTE— I think about 30 minutes in when a third of the audience left— I thought to myself: "I feel like I hate this movie" (after driving over an hour away outta state in a thunderstorm to see it)

and then the very next moment— I was completely enraptured

and so on and so forth and in and out and as repetitious as Sparks' lyrics in this film WOW where do I even fuckin' begin?

ANNETTE... is... a movie!

(here we fuckin' go "so may we start?" I'm gonna let so many people down with these thoughts that I've been hyping up for weeks and now I've got fuck-all to say)

ANNETTE IS A MOVIE

it's a movie that's... unlike any other movie I've ever seen before

yes I know I say that a lot yes I say that even in comparison to Leos Carax's previous film HOLY MOTORS yes I know I know I know that's a bold claim but I really couldn't mean it more like ANNETTE is unlike ANYTHING I've ever seen before like I've never encountered another piece of art like ANNETTE

and... I think that alone is enough of a reason why you should see it

and yet... I take all of that back and say that if you're not attuned to the hyper-specific wavelength of being a lover of surrealist French cinema with a leaning toward Brechtian theatre techniques who also happens to be a fan of Sparks... then you'll probably hate ANNETTE and shouldn't see it

I keep getting ahead of myself so I don't have to actually talk about the movie

ok

so may we start?

ANNETTE is about artificiality

right outta the gate: Leos Carax himself over the production credits tells the audience that they are watching a film

"hang on a sec—" I hear you say to me, the writer of this review (this schtick sucks) "I geeeeeeet that it's about artificiality— talking to the audience, the first song being about starting the movie with the cast and crew poking fun at themselves, Henry being called "The Ape of God" because he's an animal under the control of God (Carax), Henry and Anne's love song being just them singing about how in love they are because Carax tells them that's what they're supposed to do as pawns in this story, Annette being a puppet as a metaphor for her being a prop used by her parents: I geeeeeeeeet it"

I hear ya I hear ya— all of this is a lil'... simplistic, right?

what if I told you... all of that is intentional?

what if I told you that— by looking at this film from a Brechtian lens— the idea of the story being simple, the characters being archetypes, and the songs being repetitious... ALL OF IT is done that way on purpose?

and why?

because ANNETTE isn't about any of that

it's about... you

you— yes— that's right— YOU!

this film's so deliberately simplistic, so straightforward, so grounded in emotionality, so deliberately, frustratingly provocative... that to me literally the only way of making sense of it all is to look at it in this way

so... may we start? how did ANNETTE make you feel?

did it make you feel wowed? confused? angry?

I can say that— for myself at least: I felt all of the above and so much more

at times I was lost— at others anxious— and at others just outright frustrated

but at others I was overwhelmed— at others completely sucked in— and at others still left with the inescapable feeling that I was currently living in one of the most unique cinematic experiences I may ever endure

it is truly a soap OPERA in the most literal sense

there are a few things I know for certain that I loved

I thought that the performances (with the understanding of the confines of what they were trying to achieve: whatever that may be) were phenomenal— in a film meant to illicit emotion we truly got performances that do just that like all great melodrama: with Adam Driver as the unfunniest comedian I've ever seen boiling over with quiet rage over what it means to be make art, Marion Cotillard as a hauntingly beautiful doomed wife (and also a sea monster), Simon Helberg as easily the funniest actor who also appears to be the only one that seems to understand that he's in a film (at least until the end... get back to me on this one), but the greatest start of all perhaps being the titular baby Annette— whose surprisingly lifelike puppetry and hauntingly beautiful singing being perhaps the film's greatest performative revelation

I absolutely adored how this was shot— with a notable use of several long takes really drawing me in consistently and— perhaps even more noteworthy: how deliberately "staged" the whole production looks (again— Carax wants to constantly remind you that you're watching a film and this film does that in the best way possible with some really standout set pieces)

and— of course— I loved the music from Sparks— who haven't been this bold with their musicianship since their audio-only musical about Ingmar Bergman in Hollywood (look it up TRUST ME)— I've seen a lotta people rail the use of repetition as obnoxious and while— even as a big Sparks fan— it's something that definitely takes getting used to— I again think that there's an incredible deliberateness to it— not just for its almost hypnotic quality and practically built-in "stickiness" despite the fact that almost none of the songs are conventionally "memorable" like a typical musical but rather just flowing in and out of themselves almost like THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG (see I knew rewatching it last night would come in handy— both of these perfectly encapsulate experimental variations on typical operas and the emotionality that comes with them)— but more so for the fact that the way these songs are wrote almost gives them a uniquely "rehearsing" quality: where the repeated lines are given different inflections and different meanings at different points in the songs (all of which— again— being truly unlike anything else I've ever seen)

as for everything else?... you've got me

I could try to go on about what I think it's all "supposed" to mean: how it's some breakdown of the artist— the Hollywood romantic lead— the idea of humor in general

but again: I think all of that's so much less important than how it made you feel and what it made you think about

and for me... I'll be honest— that's really hard for me to grasp right now: this may truly be one of the most challenging films I’ve ever seen

that's why I said at the beginning that I knew this was gonna let you down

'cause I don't have an easy breakdown of all this

but I do know this

from the moment it began to the moment it ended: I was there

and even now: I can't stop thinking about it

and I know that I'm gonna be thinking about this one for years to come

and believe me when I say this isn't the last time I'm gonna talk about it

so... may we start?

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