This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Chicago Drifter’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
The direction of the film is fun, and seems to be as multivalent/multi-inspired as the narrative is. Overall, the direction feels like a great way of illustrating the metanarrative of the whole story. It seems to borrow from old Romance n Danger flicks, of the Musical Musical, of the Cinema du Look of Carax’s time, and of fairytale cinema. One thing I really liked was how in the beginning of the film often frames Driver like an old school Universal Horror villain, doing an unambiguous amount of foreshadowing. Just overall, Carax definitely wants the viewer to know they’re watching a performance.
The narrative does much of the same, and it’s forms and ideas seem to almost stretch it beyond its limit. In fact, I’m not sure it fully works as a cohesive subject, though I was definitely fascinated by the story that unfolded. There’s a lot floating around, but I felt ideas of the messy and distorted intimacy of stardom, of a toxic masculinity unable to handle loss of attention and control, and of the inherent exploitation of child stardom. It does so in this kind of meta way, as though the viewer were in some newfangled form of theatre, which I guess is just cinema, thus ironically making it even more cinematic.
Adam Driver is in full Byronic mode, thrusting himself all around the place like an angsty angry bastard. You don’t really get a sense of Cotillard’s Anne, aside from the strong element of a women in love and danger, and in love with the man who is the danger to her. Driver gets a lot to work with, Cotillard less so.
However, it does feel like it all comes together from the public revelation onwards.
Interesting film. We’re starting to get certainly interesting, though certainly not perfect, musicals again and I’m here for it.
All that aside, it’s really a parable about never dating comedians.
The one thought this made me think throughout is that some annoying theatre kids and comedians are gonna make the mistake of thinking they’re tragic and toxic in a sexy way (the beginning) and not in a sad, desperate way (the end).
I don’t think it dragged, but it was long as hell.
I haven’t seen or read any promotional material for this, so I’m not sure what counts as a spoiler and am just marking it out of caution.
It’s interesting to think of this transtemproally, as it feels like filmed theatre, but it feels distinctly cinematic nonetheless, shedding the stiffness that description usually implies, but keeping that level of remove from immersion. (I don’t care about immersion, so great for me).
It also seems to slide between musical-as-opera, and musical-as-musical.
Driver’s character is interesting in how it places that kind of Byronic archetype, and let’s us see how people react to that (it flies considerably less), and it almost forces the character to face themselves as just an asshole and not a beautiful, romantic, troubled yet alluring asshole. The film certainly loves Adam’s body at first, and I thought it’d be a sexy and toxic deal, but even that drops out somewhat as things unfold and where just left witnessing a ticking toxic timebomb
It also really feels like it’s trying to tell allegedly cancelled comedians that they just genuinely ain’t shit, and that they are being melodramatic. On the other hand, he didn’t get a streaming special after that outburst, so it’s still in a fantasy realm (entertainingly so).