Annette ★★★★

“Why did you become a comedian?"

"To disarm people. It's the only way I know to tell the truth."

This is no mere rock opera - it’s the full-throated, melodramatic, achingly real thing. A confounding, tragic and beautifully strange brew of the arts.

Maybe I’ve avoided the discourse only too well, but I’m surprised I haven’t seen more people view this more literally. Driver and Cotillard are not simply characters who draw upon their specificity - they’re archetypes of the highest degree, and in my eyes are more akin to the “tragedy” and “comedy” masks that adorn so many theater bills than actual human beings.

Together, they “fall in love.” They have a child, unnatural in appearance but perfectly at home with the extremities of her parents’ chosen forms of expression. She has gifts that can only be described as stupendous and otherworldly, but tethered to the artists who created her. Her voice flies to the heavens, much like her own mother. And when the music stops, she too has the power to speak unbearable truth, much like her father.

Is the union, the progeny of such diametrically opposed forms of art meant to be perceived as unholy? Or are Sparks and Leos Carax suggesting that there’s a world in which both can be bound to one another? That world ultimately ends in tragedy…but isn’t tragedy the greatest joke humanity has to offer?

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