Annette Review: Adam Driver And Marion Cotillard Starrer Is An Unforgettable Masterpiece

Check out our review of Annette starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard.

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Annette Review: Adam Driver And Marion Cotillard Starrer Is An Unforgettable Masterpiece

Hate or love it, Annette will affect you deeply, profoundly in ways  that cinema seldom does (but it should and would, if only filmmakers   treated the medium with the respect it deserves). Annette is a full-blown musical, not just a musical where the protagonists are singers like A  Star Is Born  or Abhimaan,  but a musical in the sense that the lead pair speaks in the musical form.

And what a joy to hear Adam Driver sing! Is there no end to what this  maverick actor can do? Within no time, Driver has become one of the most relevant actors of American cinema. We’ve seen him deal with  a  troubled marriage recently in Marriage Story with savage scrupulosity. Here in Annette the marriage is in far more troubled waters than can be imagined.

 I mention waters because the film’s most crucial dramatic episode  eventuates mid-ocean, creating further cracks in an already-damaged  marriage. Like the two films I mentioned earlier about musical marriages where the wife Anne out-sings the jealous husband Henry, in Annette the stunningly beautiful French actress Marion Cotillard plays an infinitely accomplished opera singer while Adama driver is a crass stand-up comedian, the kind that calls the audience dumb if they don’t laugh at his jokes.

In a career-destroying performance(in which Driver gives a career-defining performance) Henry tells a horribly insensitive cruel joke about killing his wife which the audiences reject. Career over, Henry spends his time sulking seething raging against Anne’s blossoming career. All of this in a musical form with the songs expressing a tormenting uncertainty about the present and future.

The music by a band called Sparks is mind-numbing in its intensity. Every song complements the theme of a marriage destroyed by the ego. A lot of the dramatic tension in the Driver-Cotillard marriage is defined by a purposely stagey ambience. It’s either Driver doing his stand-up act in a green bathing gown (always green) or Cotillard getting killed on stage while she sings in a voice so angelic you wonder how any  harm can come to it.

A baby is born to save the marriage. But it only makes things worse. Because, you see, the baby is a wooden puppet. This is the most problematic plot point and the one that has enraged furious critical debates across the world. Why is  baby Annette a wooden puppet? Here is my two-bit on  it: could  it be a manifestation of Henry’s  perception of people close to him, that he sees them as means to an end, his end?

If you’ve seen director Leos  Carax’s earlier work Holy Motors you would know he perceives human relationships as intrinsically  dishonest. In Annette Adam Driver’s Henry never tells  the truth,on stage  or  off it, he is  always playing a role. Hence Adam Driver  must  play a character who is always  playing characters. Driver’s portrayal  is primeval in its evil designs  specially when  contrasted  against the sublime sincerity  of  his friend(Simon Helberg) and the  heartbreaking innocence  of his puppet-daughter Annette.

Strangely the songs never get in the way of the emotions. In the end Annette (now taking human form) sing-tells her self-driven self-loathing father, “You have no one to love”. And there  it was: the core truth of this enchanting eccentric eclectic musical excursion into love and  trust. Finally the man who cannot stop playing roles is nothing but a lifeless puppet.

Annette challenges our perception as a movie audience like no  other motion picture in living memory. It is destined to be counted  among the greatest films of all times, as soon as critics stop hating it.

Image source: Instagram/AmazonPrimeInida