Directed by Leos Carax in his English-language debut, with the screenplay by Carax, alongside Ron Mael and Russell Mael of the band Sparks, who also contribute to the film with their music and lyrics, Annette is actually bat-shit-crazy.
The film follows doomed lovers, one a provocative shock style stand-up comedian named Henry McHenry played by Adam Driver, the other a critically acclaimed opera singer played by Marion Cotillard. The unlikely pair both have successful careers individually and appear to ‘love each other so much’, at least, enough to conjure up a daughter named, you guessed it – Annette. But despite their fame and talents, there is trouble in paradise. There’s also Annette, who isn’t really acted by a person, per-se but is portrayed instead as several different exquisitely crafted puppets by Estelle Charlier and Romuald Collinet, displaying Annette as she ages from a baby to a 5-year-old child.
The wackiest part about Annette isn’t even the puppets, nor the cringy gossip news slots that appear out of no-where, nor even the somewhat exposed compromising positions that Driver and Cotillard have while singing that they ‘love each other so much’. The wackiest part about Annette is the storyline that will build and build, until it blatantly slaps you in the face.
I’ve never seen anything like Annette. It’s original, it’s unique, it’s different, it’s bold, it’s ambitious. I didn’t feel like I was watching a movie. With its clever lighting, directing and film editing, I felt like I was watching a stage performance – an opera, which is fitting, due to the film being incredibly dramatic. Despite the film being a very tense drama, there were plenty cheesy, cringey moments, enough for the film to state that it takes itself seriously, but not too seriously, allowing for the audience to laugh on several occasions.
I’ve also never seen a film to have so many different filming styles in the one feature: from a continuous shot spinning around a conductor, to a time lapse showing an almost ghost-like sequence of a character having trouble sleeping. It felt very experimental and ambitious but is executed beautifully with almost every scene being visually stunning and fuelled with depth, foreshadowing, and meaning. As a lover of film, I also thoroughly appreciated the effort they put into doing this.
Annette isn’t for everyone. It’s very, very arthouse. But it’s undisputedly an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after you’ve left the cinema. Yes, Annette is bat-shit-crazy, but it’s also profusely creative, entertaining as hell, and I LOVED IT.