Annette ★★★½

Art house cinema as made by theater kids.

There’s a lot of potential here. The music, written by Sparks, is great. Most of it takes the form of repeating small motifs, operetta style. Which is fine, except it lacks an undeniable banger that could exist outside of the context of the story. Your “Time Warp”, your “Memory”, your “Being Alive”. Something that could be obnoxiously belted by theatre kids on the way to their dramatic monologue competition. In my opinion, it’s just that one banger short of assuring it’s future as a cult musical favorite. Maybe I just need to watch it 10 more times.

Sparks and the music they make feels very theatrical, and intentionally kind of camp and tongue-in-cheek. In this film however, most of the songs are sung by Adam Driver, who is a great actor, not a great singer, and in general they’re delivered in a more naturalistic, spoken word style, which is not really my thing. The filmmaking is beautiful in its own way, but I don’t know that the presentation and the material fully melded together. The intended tone was inscrutable at times, and I wasn’t sure if I was laughing with the film or at it. Still, I was entertained throughout. Maybe it will grow on me in future viewings. I really love Sparks, and I hope they pursue musical theatre more in the future.

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