This month seems to be the month for musicals. First we had Steven Spielberg’s high profile remake of West Side Story. Then, the Andrew Garfield’s portrayal of theatre composer Jonathan Larson in tick, tick, BOOM! And now, Annette, a modern day musical from the famed French director of Holy Motors (2012), Leox Carax. Annette is actually Leox’s first attempt in making an English language film. It first premiered in July at the Cannes Film Festival where Leox was awarded the Best Director award!
Annette is simply spectacular. From the moment the film starts, Leox’s unique creativity and originality takes control right until the very end. He wastes no time in getting the action started with the track “So We May Start” introducing his cast in a very unique fashion as they sing to get ready to begin the show. The songs in the entire movie were wonderful. Easy to listen to, relevant wordings to support the story and often conveying a sense of humour along the way. All the songs were written by Sparks, an American duo comprising of brothers Ron (keyboards) and Russell Mael (vocals). The film’s main stars Adam Driver and French actress Marion Cotillard sang most of these songs and to their credit, even though neither has significant singing background, they did the songs justice and sounded good.
The story of Annette is quite simple. Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard plays super stars from different genres who become lovers. Naturally their seemingly perfect romance would be threatened but not before they gave birth to their daughter, the Annette in the title. Adam Driver plays a top comedy act and watching him perform his comedy routine on stage is remarkable. He is really convincing and I think this is probably his personal best performance in his career so far. Veteran French actress Marion Cotillard is equally stunning as the top opera singer. Like Adam, she got her chance to shine in some sequences where she performed her opera act. The chemistry between Driver and Cotillard was also great which helps make their many duets together impactful. Adam Driver has a very passionate rawness to his singing voice making his songs come across very well. While we are not about to get any classic hit songs here, there are definitely a few numbers here which will have you humming the tunes days after watching it.
I have to admit that I am not familiar with Leox Carax’s films, but I do remember fondly watching his last movie Holy Motors which was my favourite movie for 2012 despite it being in a foreign language. Holy Motors won the prestigious Palme d’Or award from Cannes that year. Now with Annette, he is becoming one of my favourite directors to look out for in future movies. As a musical Annette is wonderful. As a movie it is flawlessly executed. I loved how Leox ended the movie by making use of the end credits to have the cast sing while they walked off in a field. It is the perfect bookend to the opening number.