Starring: Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg
Director: Leos Carax
Running Time: 140 mins
Annette is a French film about a celebrity married couple whose careers take drastically different paths, with both their lives changed forever after the birth of their daughter.
This film has really stumped me. I still don’t know whether I loved Annette, or whether it’s just a bit too ‘out there’ for its own good. Undoubtedly original, and featuring committed performances from Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard under typically audacious direction from Leos Carax, you certainly won’t find another film like Annette this year.
The thing about Annette is that, with its completely topsy-turvy approach to moviemaking, it takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions that will have you in fits of laughter at one point, and then on the verge of walking out at others.
Seriously, there are parts of Annette that are unbearably weird, pretentious or just plain boring. On the other hand, some parts are side-splittingly funny, brilliantly original or just so different that you can’t look away.
There’s a lot to pick through with this movie, but one of the simple things about it is the story. Or at least on the surface. Simply put, the film follows the ups and downs of a celebrity couple, and the bizarre direction their life takes after the birth of their first child.
That sounds like a fairly familiar story, and director Leos Carax knows it. As a result, he uses the film’s bizarre brand of musical style to rip every genre convention to shreds, no matter how strange it makes Annette.
One of the best (and most bizarre) examples of that is the lyrics to the film’s songs. As well as featuring almost all dialogue sung, in similar fashion to Les Misérables, Annette’s songs are hilariously literal, with the opening number titled ‘May We Start’, and the main theme named ‘We Love Each Other So Much’.
Inevitably, these ultra-literal lyrics make the film fantastically bemusing in its most musical moments, and although you do get used to that over the course of its rather long runtime, Annette never ceases to confuse right until the end.
With brilliant acting from Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard that see them fully commit with serious performances in the midst of so much silliness, Annette proves a spectacularly convincing and surprisingly magnetic watch from start to finish.
Does Leos Carax really need to spend 140 minutes destroying all these genre conventions and weirding you out? No, not exactly. But despite the film’s overlong runtime making it really drag at moments, the up-and-down nature of it all makes it a bizarrely engrossing prospect, as you never know what’s round the corner.
With a final act that really tops what comes beforehand, Annette is a film that’s well worth sticking with throughout, at least if you can stomach some of the strangest sequences ever put to screen. So, that’s why I’m giving it a 7.4 overall.