Annette ★★★★

Sardonic musical showbiz satire from Leos Carax featuring music (and story) from Sparks.

Twisted fairytale romance turns sour as provocative comedian Henry McHenry and opera singer Ann, played by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard bring a wondrously miracle musical baby into the world. Which, in turn, causes devastating consequences for the couple.

Admittedly not the most substantial or subtle set ups, king of Cinema Du Look Carax plays into the maximalist nature of musicals, painting with massive artifice and using the Sparks soundtrack to amp up the film’s outrageous blunt nature. Driver’s anxiety inducing stand up routines are agonisingly uncomfortable, where as serene moments of passion are undercut with malicious intent. Neither character really has much in terms of real empathy as each see one another as a means to an end. Cotillard’s Ann is haunted by abuse accusations levelled at McHenry, but the sense is that the man himself isn’t dangerous but her career could be toppled, however it’s McHenry’s fall from grace that shows how fickle and parasitic his connection to show business really is.

The truth is however is that you’re not able to make a real musical completely ironically removed, and thankfully whilst Carax knows the film is cynical, the emotions are really amped up to the max. It’s big sweeping scale fully exhibits the real tragedy at the centre of it, with a final scene that really challenges the emotional integrity of the piece. Some won’t entirely buy into it, but I did. It’s Carax’s best since Lovers on the Bridge.

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