Annette ★★★★★

A genuine Opera about our Modern Times™, delivered via the phantasmagoric ecstasies that can only be achieved via film. A non-stop barrage of ideas, both thematically and stylistically (and performatively), that assaults the viewer in classic Carax showcase fashion. All the way through to its seismic finale, that without full understanding, both times, got me crying (like, kind of a lot). At any point to think this flick could end on such a profoundly upsetting/moving note, is an achievement in itself. It’s always true to being an interrogation into all the things that plague us as a living (pop obsessed) culture, and that relationship with the idea of creation, specifically to the right now, and I, frankly, think we need it. It doesn’t all work, of course, but it has the guts to always at least go for something, and more often than not, it’s nothing short of enthralling. So casually large in scope too; the amount of extras deftly handled, while also carefully being [musically] coordinated, is a genuine feat of Directing. Which is right alongside Driver’s career best performance.

My first viewing, I had him maybe Third in my Best Actor race for 2021, but now, he would easily stand triumphantly on top (apologies to ones, Mr. Burnham and Mr. Cheadle), and is clearly this decade's stand-in for what Lavant managed to do in Holy Motors (go figure, aye). Maybe the variance isn’t as wide, but the excess, commitment, and playful wonder is just as deep. Driver lets himself be a tool of the spectacle, and fully commits to everything that is asked from him (which is a lot), and the fact it comes out coherent (the performance is inarguably well crafted), is a genuine miracle. I’m a sucker for a lot of these songs (So May We Start, 6 Different Women, We Love Each Other So Much, Introducing Baby Annette, Sympathy for the Abyss, We’re Going Around the World, Why’d You Become a Comedian, AND EVEN MORE), and many sequences surely didn’t leave my mind from the first viewing, and now many more have come to stay too. A film that genuinely feels so full of life, and love (mostly for film and family), but it’s kind of hard to take down, and I get why people maybe don’t grasp that, because it is bitter-pilled, soaked in regret and pain. It never excuses Henry, or even endorses him as semi-likeable, but it still is fascinated in wanting to understand him, and how we constantly relate, and propel, these types of figures, as well as an inherent empathy from Carax to project common emotions onto his avatar.

Carax’s kinship is obvious, but that doesn’t make the aforementioned emotions any less tangible or real. I think it helps immensely that Sparks are the main proprietors of this story; so like any great “adaptation”, the artist can just feel their way through. Do we need more stories like this? No. But at least this one went as big, dramatic, ridiculous, and absurd, as all these things feel right now. A definitive statement, whether we want to accept it or not.

I love this movie so much. I was elated through the entirety of the runtime, all over again, simply because I’m staring at a screen going, “so this is really just happening, huh?”. Could see it climb the favorites list as I continue to revisit throughout the years (and it’s still only my third favorite of his!).

Annette of this I’m sure, imagination’s strong, and reason’s song, is weak and thin… we don’t have long.

Baby Annette deserves the world.

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