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REVIEW ROUNDUP: What Do Critics Think of ANNETTE?

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in director Leox Carax's English-language film debut, a musical drama.

REVIEW ROUNDUP: What Do Critics Think of ANNETTE?

Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard star in director Leox Carax's English-language film debut, a musical drama called "Annette."

Set in Los Angeles, Annette stars Driver as a stand-up comedian with a fierce sense of humor who falls in love with Ann, a world-renowned opera singer. Under the spotlight, they form a passionate and glamorous couple. With the birth of their first child, Annette, a mysterious little girl with an exceptional destiny, their lives are turned upside down.

In "Annette," audiences get a glimpse of the different stages of the central relationship from the beginning of their romance to their married life as well as the life-changing arrival of their titular daughter.

Driver and Cotillard did their own singing for the film, which features music from the rock band Sparks.

The film served as opener for the Cannes Film Festival; it premieres in theaters tomorrow.

The reviews are in...

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian: "This film gives us the fanaticism of Cavalcanti's ventriloquist dummy from Dead of Night, the self-hate of James Mason from A Star Is Born, the desperate father-daughter dysfunction of Georges Franju's Eyes Without a Face (which Carax referenced in his last film, Holy Motors) and perhaps most obviously the strident sadness of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera."

Jonathan Romney, Screen Daily: "With music by the Maels and a script co-written by them and the director, Annette begins drolly enough, as a solemn voice asks for our complete attention, warning us not even to breathe while the film is on - nor even sing, laugh, yawn, boo or fart. Carax himself presides over a recording session, before he, his stars, the Maels and backing singers parade into the street in a long take, to upbeat overture 'So May We Start' - the jolliest moment in an otherwise surprisingly sombre affair."

Peter Debruge, Variety: "It's not for everyone, as there's little demand for 140-minute bummer musicals at the moment, though Carax's grand experiment is certainly bold enough to find its share of defenders."

Steve Pond, The Wrap: "The movie isn't one of those musicals that breaks for songs, then slips back into dialogue; for much of its running time, almost every line is sung, and even the ones that aren't are given a rhythm that makes them fit with the music. (Carax is hardly the first French director to do this: Jacques Demy won the Palme d'Or 57 years ago with "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg," which was even more of a sung-through musical.)"

David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: "The dynamic force at the middle of it all is Driver, a tornado of physical intensity and tortured self-loathing as Henry McHenry, a kind of 21st century Lenny Bruce dubbed "The Ape of God." His dyspeptic stage persona and punchy performance mode - he literally prepares for each show like a boxer warming up, bounding out in a bathrobe and swinging his mic cord like a weapon - make the character's fall from grace a powerful arc."

Kafeem Aftab, iNews: "Annette is the perfect film to open the Cannes Film Festival after more than two years. It's an art-house musical about depression that constantly challenges and confounds, with Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard eschewing their usual Hollywood paychecks for grittier roles under feted, visionary auteur Leos Carax (Les Amants du Pont-Neuf and Holy Motors)."

Geoffrey Macnab, Independent: "The film is, at points, truly exhilarating. The scenes of Simon Helberg as the conductor (and Ann's ex-lover) yelling as his orchestra plays at full volume around him, and of Driver staring down a hostile audience, are staged with tremendous verve."

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph: "Carax has an unparalleled knack for constructing scenes that feel like vividly remembered dreams - some of the images here carry such a strange dual charge, by turns eerie and drily comic, that you find yourself wondering afterwards if they actually happened, or if your subconscious has been playing join-the-dots. The two sung-through sex scenes are as good an example as any: when was the last time movie stars were allowed to be this funny, this outré and this smokingly hot all at once?"

A.O. Scott, The New York Times: "While it belongs, more or less, to the durable genre of backstage musical, "Annette" aims to be something darker and stranger than another angsty melodrama about the entanglements of ambition and love. It has some modern opera in its DNA - a lurid strand of violence, madness and demonic passion that evokes pre-World War II Vienna or Berlin as much as classic Hollywood. Rather than bursting into song or breaking into dance at opportune moments, the characters stream their tormented consciousnesses through lyrics that are never as simple as they sound."

Lindsey Berh, AP: "While I can't say I have anything resembling a grasp on "Annette" or that I even enjoyed most of the journey, it's also something that has lingered. And the more distance I have from "Annette," the more I admire its unabashedly grand oddness."

Jacob Oller, Paste Magazine: "What's a little harder to parse is if there's as much lurking beneath the surface-level art-snark as its performers valiantly ask us to believe. Sometimes, I was hypnotized by their audacity and ready to follow them anywhere. Sometimes, I was ready to nod off or head out. Annette contains all these things-moments of brilliance, intriguingly odd choices, vapidly odd choices and colossal, wild, whiffing swings-as it struggles to make sense of and goof upon a self-involved life of artistry."

Mike D'Angelo, The AV Club: "Annette is a maximalist film with a minimalist narrative-basically another riff on A Star Is Born, albeit with one truly bizarre element. Driver and Cotillard play America's hottest new celebrity couple: Henry McHenry, a provocative stand-up comic billed as the "Ape of God," and celebrated opera soprano Ann Defrasnoux. This duo has deliberately been conceived as stark, reductive opposites, in the melodramatic tradition."

David Luhrssen, Shepherd Express: "Unlike too many wannabe rock musicals, whose authors get their beat from Barry Manilow, Annette's music has a dynamism and underlying tension while hitting the glass-shattering high notes for which Sparks has long been known. The eccentric film will be appreciated by their fans as another entry in their catalogue of surprises."

Watch the trailer here:

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