There has never been a film quite like Annette. 

Living at the intersection of opera and the musical, Leos Carax latest is a tremendously audacious and challenging work of art. It purposefully oscillates between exalting brilliance and emotional frustration, intent on provoking every reaction in the book. By creating a visually involving and often hypnotic experience, Carax forges a strong bond with the viewer early on, which is essential, or he’d not be capable of withstanding what’s to come. Which is a lot. Revealing it is spoiling it, but spoiling it isn’t taking away from the experience. It sounds paradoxical, but the truth is that no amount of information, detailed as it may be, can possibly replace the experience of ‘experiencing’ Annette. It’s profound, ridiculous, touching, horrifying, hilarious, confounding, painful, overwhelming. Sometimes, all it once. Is it a twisted version of A Star is Born? Sure. Is it a riff on the operas of Giuseppe Verdi? That too. Does it reinterpret toxic masculinity in Hollywood through a new lens? You could make that case. But does it even make sense to try and rescue its origins, its influences? Not really. It’s art made in the image of its creators— Ron and Russell Mael and Leos Carax—, complete with their idiosyncrasies and quirks and ways of seeing life and death and rebirth. This is to say, it’s undeniable.

I loved the Annette, I hated Annette. I was profoundly bored at times, deeply entranced at others. And through a lot it, I couldn’t believe Adam Driver’s phenomenal performance. So big, so striking, up there on the big screen. 

This is exactly what I love about films, but mostly, this is exactly what I love about films in theaters. Annette demands it, begs for it. It forces the viewer to be there, to be present, to live with the discomfort and to breathe the experience in all its magnificent complexity. And it’s worth it. After all, there has never been a film quite like Annette.

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