Austin Burke’s review published on Letterboxd:
A stand-up comedian and his opera singer wife have a 2 year old daughter with a surprising gift.
What a strange yet slightly magical experience this was. It is definitely a film that I appreciate much more than I actually love, but there is a lot to love when you strip back a few of these elements. Firstly, the cast is absolutely phenomenal. Marion Cotillard proves that she can sing just as well as she can act, but it is her raw display of emotion that will capture viewers. Adam Driver ends up giving one of his best performances yet. There is so much he has to convey using his voice, and while he can’t hit the high note as well as Cotillard can, he will absolutely floor viewers. I am unfamiliar with Leos Carax and his work, but I have heard he creates extremely outlandish and artistic films that feel completely new (for better or for worse), and that is absolutely the case here.
This is a Rock Opera that never tries to be anything it isn’t. The film takes risks with its story, the editing, and the entirety of the music. The songs are performed live which brings an authenticity to their voices, but this can also make things feel a bit too outlandish for your more casual Musical fan. I also did not respond to every artistic decision. Certain aspects of the story need more fleshing out, and the style can often get in the way of the heart that is clearly present. Driver’s Henry is a well written character who lives with regret but often makes a terrible decision for himself and those around him. It is a love story, but at the same time, we get to see the birth of their daughter Annette who may not play into the story in the way you expect.
The decision towards the character of Annette, and really this story in general, is an interesting one. It screams “arthouse movie,” but there is so much about it that stands out. The scenes where Driver, who plays a Comedian, is doing this call and response technique with his audience are oddly beautiful. Some of these wonderfully filmed scenes tend to overstay their welcome, but there is a lot to admire within the filmmaking. The second half definitely hits a bit better with its pacing, and it ends on a rousing note. Some of the songs are repetitive, as are scenes in general, and this is where the editing could have been better. The overall experience is fascinating, and while I’m still not entirely sure what I experienced, this film manages to stand out from the crowd.
🔜The Night House