Dreaming of Cannes – Musings on Leos Carax’s ANNETTE … and Adam Driver

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Given the Cannes Film Festival was canceled last year, the 2021’s ceremony’s red carpet returns with an extra dose of glamor. I was listening to NPR’s French correspondent Eleanor Beardsley in the car yesterday and wish I were at Promenade de la Croisette or somewhere on Côte d’Azur this week, especially after seeing this clip…


Ok so um, what I’m most looking forward to out of the Cannes lineup is Leos Carax’s ANNETTE! I’ve been wanting to blog about it since the trailer came out, but somehow never got around to it. Well now that it’s premiered at Cannes, I simply must post about it now… and really, as if I need an excuse to talk about Adam Driver 😍


So what is ANNETTE about exactly? Here’s the logline:

A globally acclaimed opera singer and a stand-up comedian have their first child, and their lives are completely changed.

I’m not hugely familiar with Carax’s work, but I did enjoy his HOLY MOTORS which I reviewed here. It’s offbeat and imaginative, parts of me are weird-ed out by it, even terrified at times, but also mesmerized at the same time. I have a feeling ANNETTE will be in similar vein, except that it has a pair of actors I adore: Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. Check out the trailer if you haven’t already:

It’s got to be the year of the Sparks! Their documentary The Sparks Brothers was just released recently (read my friend Vince’s review), and apparently Ron + Russell Mael wrote this musical as well and that there’s no dialogue in this movie, it’s a complete sung-through musical.

In this EW article, Ron Mael revealed their longtime interest to get into movies:

“We’ve been trying over the years to do a movie musical… We had worked briefly with Jacques Tati in the middle ’70s and then we worked with Tim Burton in the early ’90s. These projects only led to super disappointment. The fact that Annette has actually happened and is the opening night film at Cannes is absolutely surreal. We couldn’t be more pleased. The cast is kind of ridiculous with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard. I think people will be surprised because it’s not a movie musical in the way that people conceive of a movie musical. Without sounding too arrogant about it, I think it really is a new form for movie musicals. We’re just so proud of it and the job that Leos Carax did.”

The Sparks just released this new single So May We Start from the movie, featuring vocals from the band, Driver, Cotillard and cast member Simon Helberg. Take a listen:

I’m even more excited for this as I LOVE Driver’s singing (albeit briefly) in Marriage Story! Cotillard has won an Oscar playing singer Edith Piaf in La Vie En Rose so obviously she too can sing! Originally Rooney Mara was cast but dropped out, then Michelle Williams replaced her but also left the project when it got stuck in development, then Cotillard stepped in. Seeing her with short hair here made me think of Audrey Tautou who might be suitable for this offbeat material, but not sure if she can sing.

The visuals look amazing based on some of the stills I’m seeing so far!

Now, I enjoy musicals but I generally prefer musicals where not every single line is sung. I actually haven’t seen Les Misérables in its entirety for that reason, despite loving the stage version I happen to see live on Broadway. But hey, I’m willing to keep an open mind about this one because of all the talents involved.

Here’s a clip from the movie:

I briefly scanned a few critics’ reviews out of Cannes and unsurprisingly the reaction has been mixed, though it  currently stands at 90% with just 21 reviews. I feel like films like this are more acquired taste given its inherently kooky style + bizarre premise.

I have to be honest that Adam Driver is the main um, drive for me to see this, hopefully on the big screen. This Vulture reviewer says, “Driver, such a physically imposing, intense, glowering presence, is inspired casting here…” This BBC review also praised Driver’s performance: “It’s hard to imagine that any other actor would or could play his role.… Driver has become the patron saint of oddball indie projects that premiere at Cannes. His glowering, fearsomely physical performance here is a tour de force.” While LA Times critic Justin Chang remarked “… the movie belongs to Driver… who has rarely appeared more imposing in his physicality, more bottomless in his capacity for rage and deceit.” He also calls the movie ‘entrancingly weird’ and that actually makes me want to see it more!

Well, the rest of us would have to wait until August to see this. It’ll be released in U.S. theatres on August 6 and will have its streaming debuts on Amazon Prime on August 20.


So are you excited for ANNETTE? Which films released at Cannes are you most looking forward to?