Dark comedy Annette is a musical enigma

New musical Annette is a cinematic enigma

Baffling, bizarre and beguiling.

These three adjectives barely do justice to an indescribable film: the new musical Annette, coming soon to Luna Cinemas.

A musical collaboration between French cult film director Leos Carax (Holy Motors) and 1970s icons The Sparks Brothers, Annette is a unique combination of dark comedy, tragedy, and a full-blown, operatic musical score.

It focuses on a flawed love affair between manic depressive, psychotic comedian Henry McHenry (with an incredible performance by Adam Driver) and the love of his life: charismatic and delicately beautiful opera singer Ann, (superbly played by French acting and singing virtuoso, Marion Cotillard).

The film, which has already received a wild reception after opening the 2021 Cannes Film Festival in June, begins with Henry, Ann and the entire cast, dancing and singing through the streets outside their LA recording studio.

Annette is an ‘alternative’ musical in every sense of the word, with much of the ‘dialogue’ being sung by the characters, leading to some interesting and very tuneful conversations!

Unfortunately, in the film, there is a big problem with Ann and Henry’s relationship.

Ann’s career as a diva and successful opera singer is on the rise, while Henry’s unconventional stand-up career is taking a nosedive.

For a comedian who lives or dies by his audience, he is dying nearly every night.

In between multiple cigarettes, however, Henry refuses to back down and insists on maintaining his confrontational stance.

On stage, like a boxer, he aggressively spars with his audience, while all the while looking like he has just jumped out of the shower, dressed in a dark green dressing gown and brown slippers.

Despite his perfectly sculpted, ‘gym junky’ body, this does little to detract from the audience’s dislike of him.

Returning home beaten and exhausted every night, Henry falls into the arms of Ann, but you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to guess it will all end in tears.

The film’s score, by US duo and real-life siblings Ron and Russel Mael (The Sparks Brothers), makes no apologies for being experimental and perhaps sometimes, a little incomprehensible.

The same could be said for some of the scenes, such as when Ann gives birth to baby Annette in an operating theatre surrounded by various members of Henry’s back-up band, all appropriately dressed in surgical gowns.

When Annette is born with a clown’s face it is a jarring moment and as the film progresses, the plot becomes even more bizarre.

Towards the end of the film, like a modern-day, ‘supercharged’ version of 1930s’ singing star Shirley Temple, Annette goes on to star in her own, full-blown musical extravaganza.

The spectacle, organised by Henry and his ‘conductor friend’, sees the three-year-old Annette singing, dancing, and performing to packed stadiums around the world.

As the film goes on, though, Henry’s unpredictable behaviour becomes even more violent and depressed, leading to a vicious downward spiral.

Annette starts on Thursday August 26 at Luna Leederville and Luna On SX.

By Mike Peeters


Dark comedy Annette is a musical enigma
Dark comedy Annette is a musical enigma




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