Annette ★★★½


HOLY MOTORS, which I watched once seven years ago and haven’t revisited since, is absolutely one of the films I’d credit with kickstarting my cinephilia, so words kinda can’t describe how excited I was for Carax’s follow-up. And I thoroughly enjoyed it, while only ever experiencing HOLY MOTORS-level ardor in isolated moments: “So May We Start,” the police interrogation, and most of all “The Conductor,” potentially my favourite single scene of 2021 (with 15ish significant movies still to go, I’ll admit). Carax at once creates cognitive distance from how exploitative Henry is and repeatedly collapses it, moving constantly from the artificial to the real - most obviously in the final scene, but also in smaller touches (there’s a stunning shot of the camera dipping behind a glass pane to refract the image of Henry staring at a doll). Songs are pretty good, too, repeating certain phrases ad nauseam but often thoroughly catchy (and buoyed by the cast’s go-for-broke commitment). My main reservation is the way its A STAR IS BORN first half intersects with its MY KID COULD PAINT THAT second: it does feel like an abrupt “jump” to another mode, since the Marion Cotillard bits are too lengthy to constitute prologue, and I’m not 100% confident the swerve “works” tonally (despite Carax’s best efforts to provide some continuity through e.g. Ann’s ghost). Still, the highs are high. 

(Also, as I publish this I’m in a cinema sitting through the ads before EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL AT ONCE. Very excited. [3 HOURS LATER]: rightfully so.)

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