Annette ★★★

Feels like a deconstructed comment on La La Land, from the locations to the professional actors-as-untrained singers to the pursuit of artistic success under capitalism. I don't know how well any of it ultimately works after one viewing, but it's all so oddly interesting to watch (in a theater) even in its linear narrative construct. If this were produced in the '80s, it would have been directed by Terry Gilliam, ha.

I don't care to diminish the talents and charisma of Driver, Cotillard, or Helberg, but I'm failing to understand why they would be cast in this if they don't have significant backgrounds in vocal performance (much like Stone and Gosling in La La). There are a number of renowned Hollywood candidates who fit the bill of crossover singer and actor for appropriate casting in a musical of this caliber, but none of these people are it. I like the trio just fine, but they're also miscast. Perhaps this is simply where the movie musical is headed—well-financed productions pretending to be DIY. All the "choir boys" and "chorus girls," as they're credited, are doing the heavy-lifting and harmonizing.

I don't identify as a Sparks fan, but their baroque show tunes are engaging even when their melodies are heard in strained or muted takes. Although, I do wonder if the accuser chorus (at the midpoint) in the mind of Ann was intended misdirection or an oversight in the editing room. Seems like the film could have taken a more interesting route and provided Cotillard with a juicier and more psychological part if it delved deeper into tensions between the press, Henry's trysts, and her own faithfulness and independence. Rather, this film is more about the brutish Ape Of God, which makes its title feel the slightest bit fake.

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