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Arts and Culture

'Annette' Review With Casey

The following is an unedited transcript:

Annette is a dramatic movie musical about the relationship between a provocative male comedian (Adam Driver, Marriage Story, 2019) and a beloved female opera singer (Marion Cotillard, Assassin's Creed, 2016) who endure their shifts in popularity, tragedy, and love in current day Los Angeles. 

Rarely do I see a film that leaves me as puzzled about its message as this one. Annette feels like one-half serious opera and one-half indulgent pop music video. This story and its songs were originally planned to be an album for the pop rock duo Sparks whose music is often categorized as quirky, peculiar, and theatrical. Sparks instead created the original soundtrack for this film with heavy use of rhythmic keyboards and repetition of lyrics.

 

Annette has a definite visual flair like other visually lush movie musicals, such as Moulin Rouge! (2001) or Across the Universe (2007), all of which push the boundaries of film's general capacity for storytelling and emotional connection. Most successful movie musicals exist to tell a story with song and dance as a garnish to highlight plot changes, character development, or a general vibe. If you don't fully grasp this kind of movie, check out Singin' in the Rain (1952), West Side Story (1961), Hello, Dolly! (1969), Cabaret (1972), or Chicago (2002). Annette is the opposite of most musicals, because the music is the star with the story, characters, and relationships serving as supporting ingredients. This musical role reversal makes Annette feel strange, obtuse, and confidently wild like it's basking in its own world of tortured romance and magical talent. It's as if the cast and crew are saying, "Come along for the ride. But the depth of your understanding and enjoyment is up to you, buddy." 

 

French film director, Leos Carax (Holy Motors, 2012) continues to develop his poetic and conceptual style as Annette is sure to challenge every viewer's idea of music, film, and storytelling in general. I applaud the boldness of such a feat as Annette. But it's a shame the film couldn't be more accessible or relatable for a wider audience. I'm torn about saying the film is bad or good. I would use the word unique, but I wouldn't use the word visionary.