opening “Annette” by Leos Carax, a black and luminous musical comedy

Discovered at Critics’ Week in 1984 with Boy Meets Girl, and in competition in 1999 with X fields, then Holly Motors in 2012, Leos Carax opened the 74th Cannes Film Festival while launching the competition at the Palme d’Or. With Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, Annette was released in theaters on the same day as its official screening on the Croisette, Tuesday July 6. Musical based on a screenplay by Ron and Russell Mael, who form the rock duo Sparks, Annette is a separate work, just like its director.

Henry, successful provocative humorist, forms with Ann, famous singer, a celebrity couple in the limelight. The birth of their little daughter Annette will turn their lives upside down. Following a tragedy, the child acquires an exceptional voice and becomes the tool of his mother’s revenge, while his father makes him an international star.

Pandemic requires, Leos Carax, selected in 2020, waited a year to present Annette at the world’s largest film festival, canceled last year. We had to wait nine years, after Holy Motors, to find behind the camera this regular of the Croisette, figure of an iconoclastic cinema. Interpreted by Marion Cotillard and Adam Driver, associated with the cult band Sparks in music, the cast is too good, with a rise in the steps of stars. The film is up to the task, off the beaten track, romantic and romantic, dark too.

Faithful to his labyrinthine narratives and his sophisticated images, Leos Carax films a tragic melodrama 2.0, the neo-romantic chronicle of a couple of artists who tear each other apart, dynamited by jealousy, and whose outcome will be the manipulation of their child. Henry envies Ann’s success, going so far as to scuttle himself in a suicidal show, while she, secured by fame, suffers to see him go adrift. Strictly speaking puppet, like Pinocchio, their daughter Annette becomes a toy in their hands and those of the media. Her miraculous voice manifests her vital energy, but, still a baby, she remains a disjointed doll. It was not until the last scene of the film that she took her independence, when, having become more mature, she criticized her parents in an accusing, lucid and poignant speech.

The film thus refers to all the child stars, from Judy Garland to Britney Spears, who is currently in the headlines to free himself from fatherly tutoring. But in subtext, Leos Carax concocts a moral tale on the vanity of the artist confronted with the talent of others. Beautifully illuminated with refined images, without being ostentatious, the film conceals the customary elegance of the filmmaker, despite its short lengths. Music and vocals dominate the soundtrack, with the exception of scattered dialogue. Inventive, it conceals unusual colors in the register, while resorting to a certain classicism, but always with a beautiful orchestral scale. Annette will undoubtedly mark a date in the filmography of Leos Carax, as a success in the delicate art of musical film, but also as a work in its own right.

Delayed one year for its release, Annette opened an extraordinary 74th Cannes Film Festival. Other films suffered the same fate, such as Benedetta de Paul Verhoeven, ou The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson, both eagerly awaited. The reception ofAnnette at this opening ceremony remained mixed, the film dividing the public between acquired spectators, and a fringe much more reluctant to a narrative “too crossed out“, as a guest confided. The applause, initially timid, was a little more vigorous during a second salvo, it is to say if the film shares, which bodes many comments to come. we can say is that it does not leave indifferent and ready for debate.

Leos Carax’s sixth feature film inaugurated a 74th Cannes marathon which has no less than 84 films in the official selection, instead of the usual sixty, with seven French films in competition, whereas they are usually five. These records reflect the richness and quality of two years of international film production that has remained in the drawers.

But will the world’s leading film market, the backbone of the festival, be as abundant as in previous years, due to the pandemic and the constraints of air transport? What impact will the health protocol have on festival-goers, professionals, journalists, and the public who flock to the doors of the Palace every year, while the rooms will have no limited capacity? So many questions that Franceinfo Culture will try to answer, from Cannes, during this stammering deconfinement.

Poster of "Annette" of Léos Carax (2020). (UGC DISTRIBUTION)

Genre : Drama / Musical
Director : Leo Carax
Actors : Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg, Rila Fukushima
Pays : France / Mexico / United States
Duration : 2h20
Exit : July 6, 2021
Distributor : To life

Synopsis : Los Angeles these days. Henry is a stand-up comedian with a fierce humor. Ann, an internationally renowned singer. Together, under the spotlight, they form a happy and glamorous couple. The birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious girl with an exceptional destiny, will turn their lives upside down.