Whether you are plugged into the world of film or simply the world where people beg Adam Driver to trample their windpipe, you have probably heard of Annette. The new film, from the infamously eccentric French auteur Leos Carax, stars Driver and Marion Cotillard and features music from the band Sparks, but beyond that, it’s been a bit of a mystery as to what the film is actually about. Indeed, after you’ve seen the movie, you still might not be entirely sure what the movie is about.
For fans of the way Driver looks in high-waisted black leather pants who aren’t also fans of French surrealist cinema, we’ve put together this handy guide.
What is Annette?
Annette is a musical—even the “spoken” dialogue takes place within songs—that charts the relationship between Henry McHenry (Driver), a stand-up comedian, and his opera singer wife Ann Defrasnoux (Cotillard), and, later, their daughter Annette. As the gap in their respective professional successes grows wider, he struggles to remain happy.
That doesn’t really sound that weird.
Well, Annette is played by a wooden puppet. And Sparks actually show up as a type of Greek chorus. And there are ghosts. And—
OK, that is a bit weird.
Should I watch it if I’m only interested in Adam Driver?
You should watch it even if you’re not interested in Adam Driver! It’s a really fascinating movie, and definitely unlike anything else in recent memory. As my colleague Dana Stevens wrote in her review, “films this original and irreverent are a near-extinct species in the show business ecosystem of 2021. If you sometimes go to the movies to feel unsettled, perplexed, and amused—not to mention get a peek at an often-shirtless and always-brooding Adam Driver—Annette might be the weird one you’ve been waiting for.”
I see your colleague mentioned an “often-shirtless Adam Driver.” When does it come out and where can I watch it?
It hit theaters on Aug. 6 and begins streaming on Amazon Prime Video this Friday, Aug. 20.
Should I see it in theaters or on Prime?
This is obviously a fraught question—if you can safely see it in theaters, please do! But there’s no reason not to catch it on Prime if going to a theater isn’t an option.
What if I don’t want to watch the whole thing?
If what you’re trying to say is, “What if I only want to watch the bits that Adam Driver is in,” then I’m afraid to say that he is in almost all of it. He and Cotillard are co-billed, but if there’s one main character, it’s Henry. That said, you should brace yourself, as Henry is a rather complex, sometimes difficult-to-like character, to put it mildly. You might have found Kylo Ren evil in an alluring way as Kylo Ren, but this isn’t really that kind of movie.
When are the hot parts?
In keeping with the previous point, you should be ready for even the “hot” parts to feel a little uncomfortable. Despite being fantasy-like, the movie manages to hold onto a bit of realism by making even the happiest moments feel a little bitter, as if even the characters know that the good things that are happening to them are too good to be true. Plus, by telling this story in musical form, Carax is also fully committing to the earnestness that musicals are known for. Characters wear their feelings on their sleeves, and, as per the movie’s now most infamous scene, will sing, “We love each other so much,” while performing cunnilingus on his wife.
How do you do those two things at the same time?!
Well, he’s coming up for air when he sings.
… Can you please just give me the time codes.
Fine. The love scene begins at 27:30. I am also duty-bound to inform you that there is a butt shot at 20:55. But, again, you should really watch the movie all the way through!
What if I’m trying to watch the movie all the way through, but I’m only liking it less and less as it goes on?
If you’re watching it just for the hot Adam Driver action, it doesn’t really get hotter after the musical oral, I’m afraid. Driver’s character only grows more volatile as the movie goes on (and not in a good way), and the movie, similarly, only gets darker and more unsettling as it enters its second and third acts. Plus, if you can’t take the uncanny way that Annette is played by a computer-animated wooden doll, she only becomes more and more of a major character.
What if I started watching this movie because I loved Adam Driver but now I think I also love Leos Carax?
Watch Holy Motors!