Annette ★★★★½

Sorry for the dumb metaphor, but this is true:
Before we went to see Annette, my girlfriend and I ate dinner and shared a dish that I wasn't sure I liked -- Mushroom Larb from Budsi's Thai. It featured flavors I couldn't quite place, and I kept thinking about it. Ultimately I decided that I did like it, but that there was joy found in the difficulty it posed to me, and ... sorry for this, but ... Annette is much the same as that Mushroom Larb.

A painful and challenging movie filled with glimpses of beauty. Haunting and claustrophobic both in very exaggerated but relatable ways. Amazing, but not an enjoyable watch. I don't like musicals by their very nature, but the format allowed Leos Carax to take the slow route and let the looming evil simmer as the narrative is brought out in song, much more aromatic than straight action or prose.

There are a few things that bring levity to the film: the intro framing with all of the actors coming together after Sparks leaves a recording session, and the couple of Mael brother cameos / Sparks musical interpolations throughout ("Thanks But No Thanks" melody sung by Ann to Annette just before the yacht trip, the chorus to "Bon Voyage" sung by large crowds, and a couple of orchestral riffs on Sparks tracks). These help remind you that this is just a play, but this movie is gonna haunt me for a while.

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