Annette

Annette

Holy Motors ends, if I recall correctly, with its dextrous star slumping home to watch television with a family of gorillas. Here, we get "The Ape of God," Driver's Henry McHenry, whose stage name derives from a 1930s missive mocking Parisian intellectual culture. Created in collaboration with disco vaudevillians Sparks, Carax's English language debut seems driven by a similar mockery: for star culture, for the vanities of the entertainment industrial complex, for its easy marks (his vision of a Vegas theatre audience is practically Verhoevenian), and, especially, for stand-up comics. The story seems familiar: a male artist's self-loathing breeds narcissism, and a miracle baby (mother!). Bitterness and jealousy bring him, and those in his orbit, down. (Ummmm.....paging John Mulaney, am I right, frickin' FOLKS!)

As in Demy, the simplicity of the story is enlarged by the (rock) operatic score, which inflates even the dopiest greeting card emotions (one song is literally called "We Love Each Other So Much") with the sweep and grandeur of a true epic. It's a bit boring. But, I imagine, so is going to the real opera. Likewise, it's more than a bit of absurd. But I liked those bits the best. A singing baby being lowered via aerial drones (a la the messiah in La Dolce Vita) into a "Hyperbowl" half-time show, with the football players kneeling in reverence around a light-up inverted pyramid, is an original, and perfect, satiric image, apprehending the our worship before a star culture that is quite literally infantile. Baby Annette's flying light shows reminded me especially of Blanche's wire-rigged turmoil in "Oh, Streetcar." We find the Ape of God, at last, in his cage, divinity having parted him. Again: it's pretty on-the-nose. But it works.

Call me a soft touch, but you gotta respect the big swings, right?