This was probably one of my most anticipated films of the year so I went in with very high expectations and those weren’t helped by endless reviews from critics about how amazing it was. I finally got to see it in a small screening with a lovely beer while I watched it.
Henry is a stand-up comedian with an edgy sense of humor who falls in love with Ann, a world-renowned opera singer. They are a glamorous couple that the tabloids follow but with the birth of their first child, Annette, their lives are turned upside down. Basically it’s the tragic tale of why you should never marry a stand-up comedian.
It’s a musical with music by Sparks who also wrote the screenplay with Leos Carax. The music is incredible. I can’t stop listening to the soundtrack. To the film’s credit, hearing the music in the context of the film just has more gravitas to it than it does just listening to it.
The performances by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard are magnificent. Simon Helberg of Big Bang Theory fame is also great in this film and shows that he was being held back all those years of that show. The star of the film is Baby Annette as she brings such emotion to a performance that could’ve been overshadowed by her absurdity.
Baby Annette’s appearance amplifies the theme of exploitation that is at the heart of the film. Adam Driver’s Henry doesn’t see the women in his life as anything other than things to use. He doesn’t love anything and he ends the film with nothing to love when he finally wants to love.
Annette is a powerful piece of cinema that absorbs you into this performance of a relationship that is a tragedy at the scale of something you’d see at the theatre. I think it’s the first musical I’ve seen that feels like it has the spirit of a stage performance. It was calling to the theatre kid in me that I thought I had buried.