Annette ★★★★½

A wild masterpiece that go against the norms&tone of what a musical should be,upsetting,eerie,morbid,provocative,its maximalism heightens all the emotions characters are going through and deliberately points out the artificiality of the movie,while satirizing the glitz and glamour of show biz.Leos Carax is mad man,Holy Motors and this are both attempting to dissociate and alienate the audience to allow us to see through the many illusions of life.As Brecht said art is not a mirror with which to reflect reality but a hammer with which to shape it.This film certainly does not go all the way to being Brechtian as it still allows the audience to be emotionally invested in its redemptive arc that cast a somewhat sympathetic light on our deranged protagonist(partly because Driver just can’t help but be likable even tho he plays such a controlling incel in this)but part of it is doing everything to show how the world we see in this film through the eyes of a self obsessed sociopath is fundamentally dehumanizing,prioritizing serving ones ego over seeing others as who they actually are.The audience’s appraisal and disapproval the protagonist Henry received on stage are reduced down to unnatural harmonic chants showing us thats how surreal he’s world is.The presentation is incredibly immersive and cinematic but the structure and songs resembles more of a musical play on stage with one of the coolest opening credits of the cast literally walking into their starting positions.The signing and songs initially seems innocuous like how characters sing their hearts out expressing what they feel in terms of love and lost in musical films but this film decided to take a more demented route.Even though from the outset it looks like a film with a premise similar to A star is Born about the romance of two popular talented artists falling in love in public view,it deviates from the genre tradition by a huge margin with no attempts to reconcile its twistedness.It basically done what taxi driver or possession did to their respective genres but this to musical,using song &dance to let you get into a sociopathic incel’s head and follow his downward spiral with an intimate immediacy,the music almost gaslights you into being complicit and make you uncomfortable how inevitable the tragic spectacle is.It’s perhaps Adam Driver’s darkest role&his best performance in his career thus far,where he’s charm and intensity as Henry are cranked up to 11,hes character may not get a lot of development and insights but what you see of how he justify his actions and thought process with songs that are chillingly upbeat.Driver illustrate the darkness inside an provocative entertainer so well,the abyss and hollowness in his gazes gives a hint of his violent true nature.Ann played by Marion Cotillard in Henry’s eyes is seen as a beautiful object that draws shallow appraisal that he is deeply jealous of while his daughter Annette is literally a puppet that he manipulates to prop up his own ego.Cotillard oddly feels like the weakest link in this film,not that she was not committed but it feels wooden and weightless even in the scenes where we are seeing things from her perspective.(PS:Not sure how I feel about her Metoo musical number,well intention but perhaps misguided)Simon Helberg is quite good in a supporting role of a conductor secretly in love with Ann,while brief his introduction scene as a conductor was great.This is a haunting operatic spectacle that is destined to turn ppl off for how weird&disturbing it is.But from start to finish it is relentless and so beautifully executed in how off kilter and idiosyncratic everything is including musical numbers by the Sparks Brothers.While catchy,the lyrics of the songs has this darkly ironic and comic humor that sugar coats how messed up things are intentionally.Also the cunnilingus singing scene so heavily talked about was literally nothing,it’s weird like a lot of things in this movie were but not nearly as outrageous as the sing while fuck scene right after or any baby Annette puppetry things that is utterly bizzare.This film is not as crazy or meta as Holy Motors but it’s so much fun and absolutely a deranged blast.I probably liked it more than Motors as that feels like a lot of insane ideas scattered in a experimental film while this still being completely outlandish and unpredictable feels more consistent and complete.The cinematography by Caroline Champetier‬ is inventive and unique,energized and incredibly surreal at times blending stage production designs with movie sets.Its a visual feast that is so stunningly mesmerizing,reminded me of good old fashioned bombastic musical production that feels big and epic,fitting for a movie about the rise and fall of stardoms.Truly a beautiful and tragic musical theatrical experience that is so pure and visceral,much better than recent mainstream pseudo-musicals like La La Land,A Star is Born,Greatest Showman or Bohemian Rhapsody that refused to commit to being a full on musical while doing the bare minimum in its craft.❤️

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