Annette ★★

Overall this didn't work for me, despite some sequences that I really liked. It has a cracking opening number, and a lovely scene at the end between Driver and Annette – but in between is mostly unexciting, and it simply doesn't have either the story or the music to carry its two-hour-twenty-minute running time. There are some sections that don't work at all: Henry McHenry's standup routine is punishingly tedious, and his character in general is so unpleasant that spending this much time with him just feels laborious.

I like Sparks's music, but the repetitiveness of most of the lyrics here doesn't really show their writing off to best effect. More to the point, a series of songs does not a musical make: there are very few recurring motifs, reprises, musical callbacks etc of the kind you expect to tie the thing together – it's just one isolated piece after another. And honestly, although the premise of the film seems promisingly odd, if anything it wasn't weird enough for me. Certainly there is nothing here of the productive what-the-fuckery of Holy Motors; it's really just a faintly silly melodrama which employs a couple of dubious gimmicks. I like everyone involved in this, but I couldn't shake the conviction that it's somehow less than the sum of its parts.

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