Annette ★★★½

A dazzling, excessive, and unrestrained beast of a film, ambitious and never afraid. Annette is a film that is stylized to the point of losing the point of its stylization, as the repetitiveness and the absurdity of it all threaten to overturn the movie, as if into the very sea and storm that the McHenry family travel through, but Carax is as if playing the role of a magician here; he manages the film but never controls it too tightly, as if to let his absurdism be understood but still to let it roam free throughout the whole film. It is a film which is constantly bombastic and loud about its presence with its opera-like pieces and unconventional music from the Sparks, in which Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Hellberg, and more belt over with extreme passion, and while some of the pieces are without a doubt stunning (say, the now-famous opening scene), many feel unrefined and unfinished, begging for a deeper meaning between the lines but never going further than as to say "we love each other so much". There's a slight sadness in me, that a film with such an abnormal style, on an insane mixture of theatre, opera, and film, could disappoint me with music that leaves just so much more to be desired at times. The Sparks music comes off excited and animated and sometimes even genuinely amazing, but for it to continue over the entire runtime can leave audiences not only fatigued but somewhat bored by the whole thing; everything is surface-level, never elaborated, and when everything is at 200% for so long, there's a point in which the excessiveness starts to feel numb. The music can be great, no doubt, but how much can we take before it all starts sounding the very same?

There's much to say about Annette's ambitiousness, lack of restraint, Adam Driver's absolutely phenomenal performance, and messiness almost to the point of self-destructing itself as a film, but for a film that only serves to shock, divide and cripple an audience for as long as its 140-minute runtime goes on for, the most I can praise it for is just the audaciousness and the experimentation and not that much else, except for a good song here and there. It did not manage to connect to me at all, but perhaps that was never Carax's intention for any of us or even himself at all. Perhaps the very intention was not for us to understand, but as a means to cope with his wife's death; Carax's personal horror musical, attempting to reimagine his personal life in the weirdest, most absurd, and idiosyncratic ways possible.

[2021 - Ranked]

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