Film Review – Annette (2021)

Title – Annette (2021)

Director – Leos Carax (Holy Motors)

Cast – Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg

Plot – A musical rock opera centered around the volatile relationship between stand up comedian Henry McHenry (Driver) and opera singer Ann (Cotillard) as the two navigate their love and the birth of their daughter. 

“We love each other so much”

Review by Eddie on 23/02/2022

Enthusiastic fans of cinema can often be heard crying out that the content they are finding themselves consuming is unoriginal and uninspired but no matter their thoughts towards Leos Carax’s latest oddball offering (following the seriously insane Holy Motors in 2014), it’s unlikely anyone could cry out that this self-confessed musical rock opera is anything but a unique and wild ride into the never before seen. 

Recruiting Hollywood stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard to do his bidding in this epic close to two and a half hour exercise, Carax infuses his tale of Driver’s brash and controversial comedian Henry McHenry and Cotillard’s kind-hearted opera singer Ann’s rocky romance with a wild sense of humour, much metaphorical musing on arts and creative minds and some absolutely divisive techniques too tell his story that will alienate many who view Annette between those that struggle to sit through more than one act of this film and others who want to be able to re-watch what has transpired before their very eyes. 

At the heart of the film is a relatively by the numbers tale of two star-crossed lovers doomed to fail as the realities of their lives and desires start to overtake their lust and attraction to one another but Carax is not interested in exploring these themes in the way in which we would expect with Driver and Cotillard splitting their respective performances straight down the line between a mixture of carefully considered dialogue and a raft of singing situations that builds nicely towards an unexpectedly moving finale that will reward those that stuck it out through the films more boorish and long in the tooth moments. 

Helping the film through its rough patches that stem mostly from a sagging mid-section and a last act that could’ve potentially done with a more tighter edit are the as to be expected performances from both Driver and Cotillard who have made careers out of being some of the most reliable performers in their trades but while Cotillard is as solid as ever, Annette’s greatest asset is Driver who turns in one of best lead roles yet here as McHenry. 

We got a taste for Driver’s skills as a musical performer in Marriage Story a few years ago but McHenry gives us an entirely different Driver than we’ve seen before on screen with a tricky role he nails to perfection. 

At times charming at other times squeamishly repugnant, Driver’s performance as McHenry is a special one indeed and as we grow more privy to the true nature of McHenry’s inner being and the demons he is battling as he looks to stay on top of his career and in love with Ann, Driver ensures we are constantly engaged with this character through thick and thin proving once more his one of the best in the business in this well-shot and put together offering that might not achieve everything it set out to do but remains a film worth a try no matter the end result of a viewers reaction towards it. 

Final Say – 

In a landscape of films that often feel either like rehashes or slight variations of products seen and heard before, Annette stands out as an entirely original operatic ride that is far from a classic but should be commended for going all out to deliver something unique nonetheless. 

3 singing nurses out of 5  

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