Annette ★★★½

Considering how polarizing the reviews for this have been, coupled with my lukewarm experience with Holy Motors, I was expecting to hate this. Yet, the catchy music and sinister atmosphere enthralled me.

Whatever message Annette was trying to convey was most likely completely lost on me, but I still found many things to enjoy. The tone of a pseudo-musical/psychological horror(?) is extremely strange and as somehow who admires both, I think the film balanced itself perfectly. The themes of fame and jealousy were well presented, but whatever this movie was trying to say with Henry’s stand up routine and the puppet baby flew right over my head.

Outside of story and themes, the music and acting are terrific. The music is off-putting but still really catchy, it seemed like they tried to be anti-musical but still enjoyable, and it worked. The highlight is hands down the opening number where, of course, Leos Carax insists on dismantling the fundamentals of a fictional world. The acting from Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg (of all people) was fantastic, but I think everyone can agree that this is Adam Driver’s movie. Much like Denis Lavant in Holy Motors, Driver just lets loose and gives a completely insane performance that only escalates throughout the film.

Annette is an unearthly and malicious musical that still has elements of whimsy beneath the surface. It certainly begs for further insight into ideas presented and it definitely warrants a rewatch, preferably in a theatre. I highly doubt it’ll get any love at the Oscars next year on account of how divisive and strange it is, but I personally found it to be an engaging, weird, and slightly pretentious movie.

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