Annette

Annette ★★★★½

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

When you put the film on paper, it sounds like a story we have seen million times: a man incapable of loving himself pretends to love his wife and daughter but ends up on a self-destructive spree where others have just instrumental value. In a sense, this is also a metoo-movie and if we read Driver's character in wider light, he seems to reflect all those men who feel bitter now that women have slowly had more room to show their talent.

There is no self-pity in the direction even if Adam Driver (in one of his very best roles) in the last scene reminds us of Leos Carax himself with his haircut - instead, his cold, merciless attitude towards life comes across as pathetic and his envy of his wife feels terrifying. He cannot communicate with his wife so he bursts out at an audience that cannot give him the love he requires. The song "We Love Each Other So Much" with its titular mantra feels like reassurance to oneself instead of being truly a manifestation of true love.

In the courtroom scene, the dual-role that Cotillard plays makes it also clear that the love Driver imagines is only his imagination, that there is no reconciliation between the two and I think this is an essential clue in understanding how this film doesn't make Cotillard just a collateral victim so that we might immerse in Driver's pain. If we read it in the tradition of tales of men killing their wives and sympathy given to the "poor" men, I think it's fairly obvious that Cotillard's appearance as a ghost gives her voice that comments on the contrast between men who think that killing is an act of desperate love and women victims who are usually depicted as silent victims who can only embody the love men are attaching to them.

For me, Annette is simply a spellbinding and haunting film that (despite its fairly obvious premise) packs within itself a complex range of emotions and meanings. It's another proof of Carax's ability to play with tropes and mesh together a wide range of different ideas and artistic elements that are both poetically eternal and painfully timely.

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