Metal My Movie: Annette

Viewer discretion is advised before watching this film. Find out more information here.
When you think of traditional Hollywood musicals, you usually think along the lines of romance and comedy as the subplots. You normally don’t think of a villainous comedic character (Adam Driver) conjuring a plot to murder his wife (an opera singer played by Marion Cotillard) before proceeding to exploit his child’s singing voice for fame and fortune. This is one of the many ways that director Leos Carax creates a subversive take on the traditional musical genre.
Annette opens with a narrated message to an audience, asking them to refrain from making any noise and to hold their breath until the end of the show. He asks them to take one last deep breath before it begins. The first musical number “So May We Start?” involves Sparks, a pop rock duo comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael (also credited with composing and writing the songs for Annette along with director Leos Carax) joining the main characters during the song. 
We are then introduced to a brutally self-deprecating and eccentric stand-up comedian Henry (Adam Driver) and his opera soprano wife Ann (Marion Cotillard). After his show, Henry tells Ann that he “killed, destroyed, and murdered” his audience, as a euphemism for putting on a good show. Ann replies that her opera performance saved the audience, and Henry says that she always plays characters who die at the end. Scenes of the couple’s wedding day precede the birth of their child; named Annette, the baby is portrayed by a live-action marionette.
As things seem to be going smoothly for the couple, there is a turn for the worse. Ann has a hyper-realistic dream that six women came forward sharing similar stories detailing allegations of past abuse from Henry. She also dreams that he attempts to murder her. Meanwhile, Henry is descending into darkness in his own way. At a comedy gig in Vegas, he confesses to killing his wife by tickling her to death because his love life was suffocating him.  The crowd turns on him and this is the end of his comedy career. As the audience boos, Henry puts on a laugh track to drown it out and the musical number "You Used to Laugh" begins. 
Ann is worried for Henry’s wellbeing but finds comfort from Annette.  Their marriage faces issues as Henry begins to resent Ann for her success while his career is now stained. They take a trip on a yacht in order to save their relationship. A storm rolls in while a drunk Henry dances with Ann on the ship, and she accidentally falls overboard. Henry and baby Annette make landfall and continue to live their lives as if nothing has happened, but Henry has visions of Ann singing to him. A police investigation labels Henry as the main person of interest in Ann’s death, but their evidence is circumstantial, and they let him go. During the number “I’m a Good Father” Henry concludes that he must already be one to Annette. 
Henry discovers that Baby Annette has a talent as a gifted singer. The couple's friend The Accompanist (Simon Helberg) suspects Henry was involved with Ann’s death. He confesses to the audience that he was having an affair with Ann and goes to Henry’s because he still cares about Ann and Baby Annette. Henry showcases Annette’s secret talent and wants to use her voice to make money, but The Accompanist warns Henry he is exploiting Baby Annette. 
So starts the world tour of Baby Annette putting Henry back into the public and their good graces. The Accompanist is in charge of looking after her as Henry gets back into the lifestyle of being a celebrity and partying. The Accompanist teaches Baby Annette one of Ann’s songs and Henry loses it, especially when The Accompanist claims that Annette might be his child. During a fight where Henry pushes The Accompanist into the pool, he is directly confronted and asked if he was in fact responsible for Ann’s death. Henry denies this, but drowns The Accompanist. 
Baby Annette gives one final performance before moving to Europe with Henry but declines to perform. Henry is arrested and put on trial for the murders. Annette is the only person who comes to visit him in jail. She states she has changed before shifting into the human form of his daughter; she then says Henry has changed as well.
Director Leos Carax is no stranger to subverting genres or  experimental art films similar in style to David Lynch or Terry Gilliam, with his previous filmography including Holy Motors. Adam Driver as Henry falls directly into his role as a sinister villan in contrast to his sweet and caring opera soprano wife Ann. Sparks provide the musical numbers that are at times sweet and melancholic, but at times showing the sinister intentions of Henry. Maybe not the musical you wanted, but at least Baby Annette steals the spotlight from time to time if you can look past the animatronic nature.
This is the final Metal My Movie Segment for the month of March. A huge thank you and debt of gratitude to the entire magazine team. Got a movie you feel should get the Metal My Movie treatment? E-mail us to let us know. Remi hosts At The Movies alongside regular co-host Danny every Tuesday morning from 8-9 AM only on CJLO 1690 AM.