Annette (R16, 141min) Directed by Leos Carax *** ½
He was an actor, she was an opera singer.
He killed the audience, she saved them. She wore glamorous outfits, he performed in a bathrobe.
And yet, despite their differences, Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) and Ann Defrasnoux (Marion Cotillard) “love each other so much”.
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At least at first, but as her star continues to rise, her show The monkey of god portraying himself as “a mildly offensive evening” where he performs “the deceptive and disgusting trick of making people laugh” via various “acts of provocation” is starting to fall out of favor.
Even the twin delights of marriage and the arrival of their baby girl cannot allay the nagging sense of jealousy that grows in her mind.
This year’s Cannes Film Festival opening night film certainly couldn’t be described as safe.
Director Leos Carax’s first film since 2012 Paris surrealist Kylie Minogue with Mindbender Sacred Motors, this is a wild “psychological musical” written by Ron and Russell Mael, better known to the world as the longtime rock provocateurs Sparks. Like anyone lucky enough to have seen Edgar Wright’s excellent Nut Soup Doco The Sparks Brothers earlier this year will know, they are the eclectic duo that has influenced everyone from Joy Division to Depeche Mode, Sonic Youth, Nirvana and Bjork, all while delivering tracks with names like This town is not big enough for both of us, When can I sing my way, Edith Piaf (said it better than me) and Lighten up, Morrissey.
But although they are known for their ironic world view and “sense of joy,” it is a sometimes deep and dark dive into a relationship gone awry and a man’s lifelong nightmare. result.
Think Marriage story directed by Baz Luhrmann, Tim Burton takes over La La Land or David Lynch attacking Sondheim. The songs, mostly snippets, organically come from the action, their lyrics often repeating the exposure, but capturing heightened emotions, especially the two central characters. A team of midwives, paparazzi, and even a police station are among those who erupt in harmony as the story unfolds.
Then there is the eponymous Annette, the offspring of Henry and Ann, mostly played by a puppet and looking like a cross between Children’s games Chucky and Dusk Renesmee. Like the whole project, it won’t appeal to everyone, but there’s no doubt that this Sparks album that has become a movie demands your full attention (in fact, it demands it even in the first few moments, with the more threatening suggestion that “breathing will not be tolerated”).
At almost two and a half, it’s kind of a test of endurance, but the moments certainly have the power to stay with you and Driver, Cotillard and Estelle Charlier and Romuald Collinet puppets all offer eye-catching performances.
As the Maels say in the opening number of the fourth wall So can we start, “We have shaped a world, a world built just for you. A tale of songs and fury without taboos ”.