Rob Reviews "Annette"
Lately, I have been saying to you guys a lot to go into a movie as cold as you can in order to avoid any spoilers that may come your way and enjoy the theatrical experience and storytelling that comes with it. And in most cases, I stick by that philosophy.
In most cases.
I really wish I had known more about “Annette” before the lights went down at the screening that I attended because I had the same level of confusion within the first ten minutes that I had when the credits rolled on “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood…”. As it begins in a studio with the Mael brothers of Sparks, so I thought it was the documentary “The Sparks Brothers” that came out earlier this year. Since the stars of Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard don’t show up or have their names on the screen for about eight minutes, I had NO IDEA what was going on and felt alone in that sentiment. Once the opening number finishes (put a pin in that phrase), Driver gets on a motorcycle and leaves audience left with Cotillard gets in a van and departs audience right. What unfolds is the story of Driver as Henry, a standup comedian who is known as “The Ape of God” because of his onstage antics. In a whirlwind romance, he marries opera singer Ann (Cotillard), and as her star continues to rise, his falls as a daughter comes into their lives and changes everything on every level and in EVERY way.
Leos Carax directs this film, and maybe it’s because this thing couldn’t feel more French that the wheels fell off for me so quickly. The music was very simply written and become so repetitive that I was forced to sing along even though I didn’t want to. Simon Helberg from “The Big Bang Theory” is also here with a small role that does keep the second and third acts moving, and as much of a fan of all three of these actors as I am, even my fandom couldn’t keep my attention for ALL TWO AND A HALF HOURS of this thing that moves at the pace of a turtle on an oil slick.
The entire time I was watching “Annette,” I kept thinking that Ron and Russell Mael (who not only did the music but also wrote the script… question mark) wanted to do this as an off-Broadway play that there was no theaters that would bite on so they decided to do it as a film with Amazon and someone would see it and then bring it to the stage. Honestly, if that happens, I would still take a hard pass at another swim through this experiment (also question mark). Don’t get me wrong; I am all for trying something new and stretching the boundaries of art and artistry, but this film was just not enjoyable for me in any way, shape, or form. If there is a silver lining here, it is that I feel like I have had my opportunity to go to the opera this year.
There are those that will say I lack the vision to see the brilliance of this film and it’s multiple layers of story and emotion. There are those that say I am older than the target audience here and I just should just move on to the next thing that HAS to be more my cup of tea than “Annette,” which kept me thinking that this film HAS to be done on “How Did This Get Made”. And to those people I say… OK. And I will.