When Annette begins, Carax’s voice warns the viewer. As much as a musical, you shouldn’t applaud or sing any song. You must hold your breath during the film, which, incidentally, lasts 140 minutes. Then the camera enters a recording studio and there is Leos Carax at the control table with his daughter Nastya, whose mother Yekaterina Golubeva, protagonist of Pola X, committed suicide in August 2011. The public is already aware: as in the five previous films by the French, it is necessary to understand the narration as a reflection on his life, and that is why Annette it is so unrestrained that it ends up out of control of its author, as interesting as it is repellent at times (the love theme We love each other so much is quite indigestible, although its intonation is surprising in the middle of a cunnilingus), with radical changes in rhythm that come from the music of Sparks, brothers Ron and Russell Mael.
The Sparks and Carax wrote a script that mixes a star is born, a face in the crowd, Lenny Bruce, Louis CK, the current culture of success and celebrity, King Vidor and his the mob, and toxic masculinity. As if the couple of Pont-Neuf lovers inhabited certain environments of Holy Motors, his two most famous movies. The result is, with this cocktail, imperfect. Adam Driver, who didn’t even spend a whole day in Cannes, is strengthened by this creative battle. Yesterday he attended the opening, canceled some interviews and this Wednesday he was no longer in town when the press conference began. Plays a comedian, a provocative genius of stand-up comedy, who falls in love with an opera diva, played by Marion Cotillard, in a Los Angeles between dreamy and disturbing.
The first song, so may we start, seemed to be tailor-made for the opening of the post-pandemic Cannes Film Festival (the film has been waiting a year for its premiere and still has no release date set in Brazil). Annette is the daughter (a puppet, in a somewhat crude metaphor) that the couple have before their mother’s death. In tragedy, Carax accumulates the elements. Seven years ago, he came into contact with the Sparks and thus began a collaboration that sometimes out of tune when the group’s dissonant music is put on screen. On the other hand, at other times, such as the one starred by Simon Helberg when he mixes a conversation with the camera with his work with the baton as an orchestra director, one understands and applauds his bet, which is also an ironic look. to the creators’ ego, and forced the actors to sing live, something almost unusual in this genre.
With only six features in his career — and that’s what made the initial three, with Denis Lavant as alter ego, in the first seven years of his 34 dedicated to directing— we have to thank the Frenchman for at least jumping into the void. On the trip, he creates elements of unquestionable beauty (the forest of the opera setting), but others in which seriousness wins him over, when neither the Sparks’ music (always ironic) nor the genre used (the musical) go in that direction.
At the press conference, this solemnity was underlined in the words of Carax, 60, when he said: “He talks about a bad husband, a bad father, a bad artist, but he doesn’t have an indulgent look. We didn’t film a trial.” About Sparks, he recalled: “They offered me music and language, which was my first language, although I lost it a little. I didn’t imagine Annette, but I worked it like an opera: you receive the libretto and then try to create a world”. About his musical passion, evident in his cinema, he explains that making a musical comes from there, from his frustration “for not having toured playing an instrument”. And he remembered a musician usually present in his work: “I discovered David Bowie when I was 14 years old. I always wanted to make a film with music, but I thought it would never happen”.
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