Annette

Annette ★★

My serial pussy days are over

There's a lot of ideas here, and they aren't exactly bad ones, but Annette is so caught up in its crashing stardom it never quite pulls itself together. Carax is so caught up in the idiosyncracies of Sparks' music that he uses the strangeness as a crutch, an anti-musical of sorts that goes for a maximalism of sound as opposed to listenability or narrative. An honorable approach, to deconstruct the musical romance to the end of tolerability, but some of what's made it into the final result feels more shitpost than art film. The opening 'So May We Start' number is far better in context, and promises the meta-musical to come. Later songs grow garish, singing the contractions of Marion Cotillard's character during childbirth, or an ill-advised shrieky 'MeToo' musical number directed at Adam Driver's Henry McHenry. The titular Annette is less a magical omen, but a symbol of the couple's increasingly monitored romance, and struggle for positive relevancy. Played by a porcelain puppet reminiscent of those in Gisèle Vienne's early theatre work (particularly the adaptations of Dennis Cooper's stories), except with creepier ears, the child becomes a Hatsune Miku-esque figure, popping out of screens as her fame takes on some sort of virtual reality aspect. The ideas are all here—the damage of toxic masculinity and accountability, the way parents of child stars project their dreams onto them, and the bitterness of destroyed romance, but the cringe outweighs the cinematic legacy here. Kinda shocked to dislike this after Leos Carax made two all time favorite films of mine, Mauvais Sang and The Lovers on the Bridge, but his archetypal doomed lovers musical (the ingenue, the cruel, bitter washed-up comic (when did we stop having comedian characters actually be funny?), and the wife who is allowed little inner life outside of love's conflict) feels admirable for little other than that it was made in today's production climate at all. Marion Cotillard's is oddly wooden, Driver gives a solid performance (and his character is perhaps the one consistency here), but the two and a half hour epic leaves a sour taste in the end, after it barely scrapes its act together for a somewhat touching final scene after hours of repetitively dialogued sing-arguing.

To humor the opening warning telling viewers to silence their bodily functions during the film, a better tagline may have been 'so may we fart'

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