'Annette' Is An Allegory On Exploited Love
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'Annette' Is An Allegory On Exploited Love

Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard and Simon Helberg star in this disarming, passionate musical feature

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A movie still from "Annette." It's a tight framed movie still of the actors' side profiles as they lean in for a kiss. Adam Driver (left) wears a green leather jacket and motorcycle helmet. Marion Cotillard (right) wears a bright yellow dress with yellow flowers in hand.
Courtesy of Amazon Studios

Have you ever seen something so strange yet wonderful? "Annette" is the weirdest film audiences have seen in 2021.

It breaks the fourth wall while featuring about 40 original songs and elaborate puppet productions. Between the graphic sensual scenes and depressing messages on the exploitation of love, "Annette" is a film that leaves audiences in silence as the credits roll.

Director Leos Carax collaborates with story and music by Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks to present the summer's one and only avant-garde movie musical.

In present day Los Angeles, Henry (Adam Driver) is a rockstar-like sensation as a stand-up comedian known as the "Ape of God." He falls in love with Ann (Marion Cotillard), a world-renowned opera singer, whose bright and colorful outfits greatly contrasts from Henry's dark and mysterious aura. Under the public spotlight, they form a passionate and glamorous romance. Meanwhile her long-time friend, The Conductor (Simon Helberg), holds a secret that threatens Henry and Ann's relationship. With the birth of their first child, Annette, their lives are turned upside down.

Annette - Official Trailer | Prime Video www.youtube.com

According to the press notes, "Annette" wasn't originally going to be a feature film. The Mael brothers were hoping this would be a musical that Sparks could tour with, and the film certainly shows like an elaborate theater production. The press notes also say that though the cast recorded the catchy songs in the studio, most of the actors' singing in the film is live.

Driver, Cotillard and Helberg all bear their souls as their respective characters. In the film, Driver's Henry says he became a comedian to "disarm people." And honestly, all three disarm the viewers at some point or another in the movie with their expertise. The screams are deafening, the tears are devastating and the anger is alarming.

The art direction for this film is intricate and detailed, especially when viewers meet Annette, the couple's young daughter who appears as a series of puppets. As Carax states in the notes, "In the world of the film, she's a real baby, but we can see right away that she's not a baby of flesh and blood." It's a genius representation of how hollow her existence is in a world filled with people who can't love one another properly.

But the most notable thing about "Annette" is the message it conveys. The entire film is an allegory on the chaos that ensues from the exploitation of love whether it be romantic, criminal, filial, obsessive or unrequited love. At the beginning, the film is slow to getting to the message and rather spends time sharing the differences between Ann and Henry. But eventually audiences see that intense emotions following any variation of love can destroy the very thing one cares for, and that's what makes "Annette" so enchanting to watch.

Score: 9/10

"Annette" premieres in theaters Friday, August 6 or on Amazon Prime starting Friday, August 20.

Follow the reporter on Twitter at @s_incorvaia.

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