Cannes 74: ‘Annette’ Review
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
La La Leos Carax.
The red carpet is laid, the spotlights are on, the posters are up, and the aborted 2020 Cannes edition is an unspoken taboo. Nobody dares to mention it, as the 74th Cannes Film Festival doesn’t lament the past but looks ahead instead- yet without so many differences. Just as always, Spike Lee wears flamboyantly colourful suits a la Queen of England, Pedro Almodovar wanders the stage disoriented, and Lea Seydoux is in 75% of the selected movies (are there any other French actresses available?) The greatest difference, other than the insufferable heat in this odd summer edition, is that Bong Joon Ho has finally improved his English skills. Et voilà, the festival is officially opened. But let’s dive into today’s plat principal: La La Leos Carax’s latest achievement, Annette.
Almost a decade after his latest feature, the cult favourite Holy Motors, Leos Carax is back with a musical - and the hype is justified. His dark shades are still on, and so is his directorial flare: we are entering in Carax’s fantastic, grotesque, and intrinsically cinematic dimension, and he welcomes you on the doorstep. Adam Driver plays a provocative stand-up comedian, and Marion Cotillard a celebrated opera soprano; he eats bananas, she eats apples. But the couple’s love results in a new-born baby, Annette, interpreted by a creepy marionette resembling a fusion of Chucky and the 2001 foetus. Showbiz rules, and baby Annette’s miraculous lyrical talent is soon exploited into endless performances, mirroring King Kong’s vicissitudes. Greed, mystery, murder, surrealism, humour, and sex (Hot spoiler: Adam Driver doesn’t only use his tongue to sing) all operatically narrated in what has all the ingredients to become the cinephiles’ favourite musical.
Virtuoso camera movements, hypnotic choreography, breaches of the fourth wall, filmic references and mise-en-scene burst out at 24 frames per second. Symmetry is to Wes Anderson what the colour Green is to Leos Carax. The spectral emerald colour is omnipresent, allowing the viewers to immediately recognize the director’s touch, despite his sporadic filmography. They should really have a pantone for that - Green Carax. Every scene is a stylistic ejaculation, but his unquenchable, self-indulgent thirst for the cinematic eventually finds its story. The mood changes rapidly, faster than the players’ vocal range, offering a serious take on the #MeToo movement mixed with slapstick gags. The legendary Sparks Brothers sing all the songs of a musical that seems tailored for the Croisette, which even directly addresses the Cannes audience pleading for some mercy for the creators present at the screening. Perhaps the trick worked, as the credits were welcomed with a heartfelt general applause.