‘Annette’ Review- Unpleasant and Pretentious

Annette‘ is a musical drama directed by Leos Carax in his first English language feature film. It made its premiere at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

Provocative stand-up comedian Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) and celebrated opera singer Ann Desfranoux (Marion Cotillard) have a whirlwind romance leading to an odd couple situation and marriage. They soon have a daughter named Annette whom they both adore. Soon, Ann’s career takes off while Henry’s suffers, leading to tension between them. After Henry has a meltdown on stage, he and Ann go on a boating trip where he accidentally kills her while drunk. The police, thinking it an accident, let him go, only for him to hear Annette singing in his wife’s voice. Recruiting Ann’s old conductor friend (Simon Helberg), they take Annette on the road. However, Ann’s ghost continues to haunt Henry causing him to go on a downward spiral.

The opening song “So May We Start” is actually kind of upbeat and impressive. It features most of the cast singing and Cotillard seems to be having fun with the scene. I thought that this would bode well for the film, boy was I wrong.

The movie soon becomes a melodrama that overstays its welcome and drowns in pretension. I was not shocked to find that the mainstream critics loved it, of course. It is about a toxic white male who likes to “kill” his audience. He becomes jealous of his wife, kills her, and then exploits their daughter, who is portrayed by a wooden puppet, for personal gain. They tried to pretend that the symbolism in the plot was deep, but it was shallow and obvious. No introspection was required.

I was also puzzled by the stand-up scenes. Even before his “downfall,” Henry’s jokes just are not funny. Like so many comedians, he seems to be after claps and though the song declares he is after “laughs,” you would not know it from his bit. It has nothing to do with Driver’s performance. His acting skills, along with Cotillard’s talent, attempt to limp the film across the finish line, but they could not do it. Even the music seemed to give up as it gets more phoned in as the movie continues along its elongated runtime.

Bottom line, I can see why mainstream critics liked Annette. It’s their kind of movie. Pretentious dialogue and music lyrics. Obvious commentary pretending to be subtle symbolism. Claps not laughs. Toxic white male. Yup, all the hallmarks are there. It is boring, obtuse, and just not a good film.

PARENTAL CONCERNS: Some violence, Sexual content including nudity, Strong foul language

FAVORITE QUOTE: So may we start?

Check out the trailer below:

What do you think? Let me know in the comments below. Tell me if there is a comic book, movie, or novel you would like me to review. While you are at it, check out my movie reviews of Hostage House and The Green Knight. Don’t forget to like, share, and subscribe for more posts like this one.

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