Annette ★★

My house was broken into last night, and the bastard stole my jokes.

Sparks are one of my all-time favorite bands, and I've been excited for this since they announced it. So it truly hurts to have to say: this is the single biggest disappointment of the year.

In terms of plot, the whole thing is just incredibly unfocused. The first half of the movie, which should've been shortened immensely, has virtually no real plot to speak of. The second half vaguely has a plot, but lacks any clear stakes or sense of direction most of the time. Things are happening, but despite half-hearted attempts at straight-faced quirkiness, the film fails to make any of it interesting, and fails even more at making you care. At times, you almost sense the movie must be trying to say something, but it's difficult to imagine what.

As a musical it fares as badly, which is doubly disappointing. Sparks have always been such a fun and vibrant band, but all of that is missing from this. Both musically and lyrically, this film is less Kimono My House and more The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, and perhaps that latter album should've been a foreboding of any future Sparks musicals.

Musically, it's not as same-y as Seduction, but it comes perilously close. There are a small number of times where the soundtrack threatens, briefly, to become interesting, but far more often than not, it all simply blends together.

Lyrically, it also suffers from the same problem I have with their Ingmar Bergman musical. Lacking any and all of the witty lyricism the band is otherwise known for, the lyrics here mostly come across as flat, unimaginative, overly literal, and parodically expository. One of the worst offenders is a song whose lyrics consist almost exclusively of Driver and Cotillard repeating "We're so in love with each other". (The Sparks album Lil' Beethoven is similarly filled with songs which mostly repeat a single line, and perhaps they sought to emulate that formula with this track, but it lacks the musicality that made that record a masterpiece)

This is a story which simply goes on for far too long, and utterly fails to entertain on practically any level for the majority of its runtime. The songs aren't memorable at all, and the movie isn't really having any fun at all with the fact that it's a musical. It's also not even dramatically engaging, and the point, if it even has one, is muddled beyond any desire to care. There's some genuine talent in here, in a number of departments, but ultimately none of it was able to stop this from feeling like a slog.

My mom's thoughts: "It was a 2 hour movie, but it felt like 4 hours". She liked Adam Driver ("great actor"), Simon Helberg, and the little girl in the last scene, but found it similarly boring; the songs all sounded the same, and the lyrics weren't up to the usual caliber of Sparks.

Drama/Musical - 6/10

➡️ 2021 Ranked

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