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Now playing in cinemas that are open.
Leos Carax’s Annette opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival and won him the prize for Best Director. It is undeniably and thrillingly ecstatic, passionate, vibrant and highly personal cinema. Possibly, it’s Carax’s best; it certainly makes you think that previous films of his, especially Les Amants Du Pont-Neuf, really should have been sung-through musicals (as Annette is). The form suits his style, which is huge, operatic, melodramatic, theatrical and resolutely obsessed with the nature of performance.
Indeed, here, Marion Cotillard plays an opera singer – an opera star, even an opera celebrity – who marries an ‘anticomedy’ LA comedian, played by Adam Driver. They have a child, Annette, played by a succession of incredibly endearing marionettes, and very, very dramatic events transpire, looping in the singer’s accompanist, the second played by the nimble Simon Helberg (the other was in Florence Foster Jenkins, for which he got a Golden Globe nomination).
This is cinema to evoke wonder and awe, propelled by an awesome suite of songs by Sparks, the pop/rock band fronted by brothers Ron and Russell Mael since 1966 (and recently the subject of a feature length documentary by Edgar Wright called The Sparks Brothers.) These two films give Ron and Russell a tremendous moment, tremendously deserved.
Carax draws intriguing inspiration from LA comedy culture; his reference points include not only Louis CK but, fascinatingly, the ‘Pearl’ videos of Will Ferrell (remember those)? His film, an opus, is full of ideas, but perhaps more importantly, it’s full of wonder.