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Annette Movie Review


So, may we start?

Annette premiered on Amazon Prime this weekend, and this rock opera sure is unique.

The leads sing wonderfully, which gets elevated by their star power acting.

Adam Driver plays comedian Henry McHenry, and Marion Cottilard plays opera superstar Ann.

Simon Helberg rounds out the main characters as The Conductor. 

Helberg’s musical talent has been no secret (as shown in Florence Foster Jenkins), and he gets to showcase some new skills for Annette.

Helberg learned to conduct for the role, to make it seem as realistic as possible.

The actors put everything into their performances despite the weak script by Russell and Ron Mael.

The story itself felt like watching a fever dream in real-time, which I would consider both good and bad.

Carax made some interesting directing choices that paid off, but the script also hurt his unique directing style.

Almost every scene from Annette could be a painting, with its beautiful costumes, sets, and cinematography.

Annette started promisingly with a catchy song performed by the whole company. This song ranks as my favorite from the film, but it’s a competitive ranking due to the superb original music throughout the 150 minutes.

Once the actual plot of the film begins, things sadly take a sharp left turn into weird.

I often consider weird good (The Green Knight, for example), but Annette reached new heights of bizarre by putting it to music.

Warning, everything below contains SPOILERS.

I’ve yet to talk about Annette herself, and for a good reason.

Annette is possibly the weirdest part of this film. After a song about giving birth, They welcome Annette into the world — and she gets portrayed as a puppet.

Making Annette a (semi-offputting) puppet was an odd choice, and each actor interacted differently with her.

While the choice of the puppet supported the beautiful metaphor during the last scenes of the film, having her be a puppet the whole time made watching the movie complex.

Even though the movie is titled Annette, the film focuses on the parents more.

Ann and Henry’s relationship takes the forefront, even after Henry accidentally killed Ann.

Yup. Henry accidentally killed Ann, leaving her to haunt him as a sea ghost siren thing.

While the costume she wears as the sea ghost siren is gorgeous, the movie’s already shaky legs fail to hold another weird plot point.

Then, unsurprisingly,  ANOTHER weird plot point is introduced.

Sea ghost siren Ann chose to haunt Henry through Annette, which meant that the baby Annette can now sing with Ann’s operatic voice.

This moment in the film is where I had to push my suspension of disbelief to its limit.

Henry, with the help of the conductor, used Annette to get rich. He exploited her new singing ability to his advantage.

Calling her Annette and then making her sing as her mother feels like a cheap metaphor because the suffix ‘ette’ means little, which makes her name mean “little Ann.”

Once baby Annette started singing (and floating), I leaned over to the person I went to the film with and said, “What the eff are we watching?”

And we still had another hour left.

Annette’s runtime of nearly two and a half hours hurts because it drags on scenes that did not deserve the time and effort.

The conductor bonded with Annette and started to believe that he’s the father, not Henry.

The conductor and Ann had an affair before she and Henry met.

This reveal did not have much of a lead-up within the story, and the “twist” that it tried to create completely fell flat.

The conductor hardly had any screentime, and the one time he elaborated about his love for Ann was relatively easy to overlook.

The conductor revealed that he wrote the song ‘We Love Each Other So Much’ for him and Ann, not for her and Henry.

In a fit of anger, Henry decided that the best option is to kill the conductor.

Henry forced Annette to perform one last time when one of the most absurd and incredible lines got spoken by Annette.

Daddy… Daddy killed people.

In the courtroom following that odd scene, Henry and sea ghost siren Ann had a beautiful duet, Stepping Back in Time. This song defines the climax of the movie better than the script.

Stepping Back in Time shows Sparks’ musical talent. The music they wrote for this movie impresses, but this duet’s power and energy go unmatched.

Finally, I can get to the beautiful metaphor at the end of the film. Annette visited Henry in prison and suddenly appears as a real girl.

Portrayed by Devyn McDowell, this incredible scene of her replacing puppet Annette gives me goosebumps each time I see it.

You can’t kill here, can you?

Annette’s wisdom surpasses her age because she has gone through so much.

The final song in the musical, Sympathy for the Abyss, brought tears to my eyes.

Driver and McDowell’s energy and voices lent wonderfully to the duet, and the metaphor of Annette no longer being a puppet couldn’t have been more apparent.

Annette refused to sing again and removes herself from her father’s exploitation.

Interestingly, Annette also blames Ann for her abuse and exploitation, which leads to a fascinating examination.

Ann also viewed her daughter as a puppet, as this last scene proves to be the only time Annette appears as a human.

So how did Ann use her daughter?

Thinking about Ann’s life with her daughter, she always wanted the perfect family and the perfect child.

I believe that Ann didn’t want a child for the child’s sake — only for her own. To get closer to Henry and to seem perfect.

Annette knows that her life has changed forever, leaving her puppet self behind in prison.

The emotion that McDowell portrayed in her one scene moved me, and she deserves so much praise.

Actually, all of the performers in Annette deserve a lot of praise.

From inspiring chemistry between Driver and Cotillard to their unique and beautiful singing voices, Annette’s pool of talent impressed.

While Cotillard did a lot of her singing, the opera performances were voiced by Catherine Trottmann. Trottmann’s operatic voice lent perfectly to the eerie tone of each piece and made a lovely addition to the music.

And as I mentioned, Sparks’ music impressed most in this strange movie.

I wanted to love Annette, and while I did enjoy it, I can’t help but feel that it could have been so much better.

I cannot call this a good movie, but I cannot call it a bad movie.

There were moments I sincerely loved, and I have fallen in love with the music.

I do hope that Mr. Driver does more musicals because he shocked me with his musical talent. Having been previously nominated for a Tony for a straight play, I’d love to see him singing on Broadway.

I also love Cotillard’s musical talent, but her musicality already has a name for itself with her Academy Award Win for playing French singer Edith Piaf in 2007’s La Vie en Rose.

So Fanatics, did you watch Annette yet?

Let us know when you do in the comments below.

Annette is now streaming on Amazon Prime and is also showing in limited theatres.

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