Annette ★★★

I can broadly appreciate what Carax seems to be going for here but have to admit the long running time and off-putting nature of the musical numbers did not always work for me. It's sort of a Beauty and the Beast (or the Bastard as the film jokes at one point) tale of a crass stand-up comedian in love with an opera singer and the romance between them. Before too long it narrows its focus down to the noxious comedian at the core and his relationship to fame, audiences, and those closest to him. Self-destructive and increasingly jealous of his wife's career, he is one push away from madness and gets it in the form of their child which takes the form of a creepy wooden puppet. Driver is terrific as always but I'm not sold on the musical aspect of Annette barring the incredible opening number and strangely emotional closing duet. The artificiality it brings seems intentional but distancing even when it's hilarious ("I am an accompanist"), making it somewhat of a tough sit. Who doesn't love watching an A-list actor do extremely weird things though? Worth a look for Driver's performance alone.

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