Home News Annette’s poetry stages the creative ego of artists – Francesco Boille

Annette’s poetry stages the creative ego of artists – Francesco Boille

by admin

November 19, 2021 11:32

Here is perhaps the film that can accompany you until Christmas, even for those who are not a lover of musicals, making us reflect and imagine together. Presented at the last Cannes where it won the award for Best Director, the new feature film by the cursed genius of French cinema Leos Carax is a musical sung in English despite the nationality of its director, set in Los Angeles and with one of the two main performers of American nationality (Adam Driver), while only the main female interpreter is French (Marion Cotillard). After all, there seems to be a sort of exchange between the two sides of the Atlantic and in particular between the United States and France, given the simultaneous presence in the hall of the new film by Wes Anderson, French dispatch, also in competition at Cannes, shot and set in France with a stellar cast of both American and French-speaking performers. If in 2019 the top Oscars went to a South Korean film like Parasite, it is reasonable to think that this helps other upheavals, large or small, in the geopolitics of cinema.

But of the many baroque formalisms, a little redundant, childish and an end in themselves of French dispatch, there is no trace here. It is more a form of baroque purity that Carax seeks, which also manages to evoke much of his cinema (and we point out the elegant boxed edition that collects all of his filmography on DVD).

Annette it is a grandiose, almost immense, film about ego and staging. From the beginning, on this last aspect, the viewer has proof: sounds of musical instruments rise to visual interference. Are we in a movie or are we at the theater? We immediately have the confirmation that maybe we are both. And to exacerbate the ambiguity of this work steeped in duality and ambivalence is also added the film within the film. In a few moments, Carax himself appears first and then the Mael brothers, that is the Sparks, a legendary rock group in business since the early seventies to whom we owe the enormous work of writing the screenplay and the music of the film, also grown in Los Angeles and then emigrated to London. It is theirs that “So may we start” repeated incessantly, obsessively, while everything starts and Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard join the dances. The “can we begin?” it becomes reality almost without us realizing it so much the rhythm is overwhelming, cheerful.

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But appearances can be deceiving. The bottom is deep, internalized, dark too. The son of Franco-American journalists, the former critic of the Cahiers du Cinéma, theenfant terrible of French cinema for its difficult productive adventures, perhaps more iconoclastic than Godard, succeeds inexploit to unite and relaunch many forms and ambitions of cinema, even opposing ones, combining two dominant themes of French cinema and the Nouvelle Vague, thecrazy Love and stolen childhood. Crazy Love and stolen childhood, however, interchangeable and reversible: Ann (Marion Cotillard), the woman Henry (Adam Driver) falls in love with, is clearly also Annette, the tiny little being born a short time later who looks both pretty and an ugly duckling in version modern, vaguely a little monkey who, not surprisingly, often has a plush monkey in his arms. Two moments, two ages of the same person’s life. But beware, throughout the film Annette is a puppet, an electronic puppet, a female Pinocchio.

Film partly of self-confession – the suicide of the director’s ex-partner, actress Katerina Golubeva with whom he had a daughter hovers over the film – on the artist’s ego as a creative and (self) destructive force, the film questions where the border lies. But at the same time everything is more subtle and broader: “Why did I become a comedian? To make you notice what you have for sure always noticed, without noticing that you have noticed it until I ask you: ‘have you ever noticed?’ ”, Henry declaims on the stage, naked under his bathrobe. And the audience asks (but actually gets asked): “Henry why did you become a comedian?”. And he closes “because you have bored me and you have to clap, clap, clap”. And of the more than two hours of show we will mention little else.

But it is evident that if his art is provocative, narcissistic and always pushes the relationship with the spectators to the limit, he always falls back on stage. Or so he thinks. It feeds on itself to such an extent that it falls into a black hole. But the public is drawn into this vortex where the border is canceled, more than between reality and fiction, between the dignity of the intimate and the unworthiness of the society of the spectacle that devours everything. Including the dignity of the artist, his truth, which slowly slips into darkness. Annette is also this: an x-ray of the era of egomania that contaminates the whole of society, like the pods in Don Siegel’s film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers.



A changing and mutant cinema-theater, a film-opera about the society of the spectacle that makes the audience laugh on command, but which here becomes song and poetry. Without forgetting the perennial spectacle, the one that has existed since ancient times. The scenographies have shades of blue that recalls that of Yves Klein’s conceptual art, Marion Cotillard enters and exits until she becomes diaphanous like a ghost and pastelized as in a painting: here, her purely visual and never vocal scream, filmed between slowed down and still image, it condenses in the blink of an eye all the archetypes of the girl / child lost in the woods, in terra incognita, in the night. And if there is a naturalistic detachment in reality, in true nature for example, it is also an illusion here, we are always in the staging. It never comes out. The theater curtain never really falls. And in this regard, we invite readers to wait for the end of the credits for one last spell.

So is it a film about staging, understood in a broad sense, including the (im) posture that lurks in every human being, or about the ego? In reality, it is the faux-enactment of the ego.

Ann is afraid of the look, of Henry’s eyes. There is no orientation in the night, and the orc is close by. The night without light, as unknowable as our unconscious, hides the wolf or the ogre chasing or waiting for the girl. The climate of persistent, enveloping oneirism, where dreams and nightmares are attacked like Siamese brothers, dominate this film of dark, declared, indeed declaimed, omens. Ann changes from an angel of love, of light, to an angel of vengeance, of darkness. And Annette is left with only the song of solitude in the moonlight.

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At times we think of David Lynch, for the atmospheres but above all for his ability to create powerful images like him, never seen before, but which paradoxically refer to the depths of memory: the street where the theater of the beginning is located evokes the visions of an Edward Hopper-like America that we believe has disappeared.

Annette it is hypnotic, enchanting like a carillon or a sort of magic lantern from the original cinema, in particular the one contaminated by the artistic avant-gardes and in turn a vehicle of its own avant-garde. The obvious, suggested or fading cinephile references of this work both physical and ethereal – masterpieces such as He fucks her (1928) by King Vidor for example – make his evident greatness even more real, concrete: Carax with Annette realizes a cinema that for crazy ambition and search for experimentation combined with formal power, revives the spirit of the cinema of the seventies of New Hollywood, impregnated with great entertainment and experimentation in an almost osmotic way, and of which the work of Francis is certainly paradigmatic Ford Coppola.

“True love often finds the right path, true love often gets lost”: surely the love for cinema is not lost here, because if Annette it is a work of moral questioning, it is first of all in a poetic way. A pure cinema poem.

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