Annette ★★★½

As much as I loved Holy Motors, Leos Carax's last film about the artifice of performance, I still had to tell myself over and over again throughout Annette that the fakeness of this film was all part of the plan. After a while, I didn't mind the statement-of-fact singing, and the fact that Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard have a marionette child, and started to get lost in Carax's bigger points about that artifice and the performance of performance.

But still, this doesn't have the same type of surprise, or shock to the system that Holy Motors had to me, and sure, those two films aren't trying to do the same thing. But when you start your film with such a tremendous opening, one that reminds me of key scenes in Holy Motors, I can't help but hope for the same level of transcendence. I do think Annette is one of the best examples of a film that I will appreciate more on a second viewing, simply because I know where my expectations should be at.

Yet Annette mostly did work for me! Carax's direction is some of the most beautifully handled camera work I've seen all year, and doesn't feel cheap despite the obvious limitations here. Driver and Cotillard are naturally good, but I was even more surprised by how much I enjoyed Simon Helberg, and Devyn McDowell, who only gets on scene, but steals the show. I adore the cinematography by Caroline Champetier, and I really enjoyed when the soundtrack by Sparks poked fun at itself, and was playing with the narrative that was being told, again, especially in that opening scene.

Even though I have my hesitations about Annette, it's one of the few films that year that I couldn't wait to see again once this was finished.

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