ANNETTE – Review by Susan Granger

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Playing in theaters and debuting on Amazon on August 20, Annette is an eccentric, hallucinatory rock opera about love, passion and celebrity, set in Los Angeles.

It begins as a voiceover cautions viewers not to “sing, laugh, clap, cry, yawn, boo or fart,” adding “breathing will not be tolerated during the show so, please, take a deep last breath right now.”

Megalomaniacal Henry McHenry (Adam Driver) is a charismatic provocateur/performance artist, known as ‘The Ape of God.’ He’s madly, desperately in love with Ann Desfranous (Marion Cotillard), a coloratura soprano.

Henry’s career is at its zenith. Playing to sold-out crowds at the Orpheum Theater, he bursts on-stage in a hooded bathrobe – like a hulking boxer – which he strips off to reveal a taut torso clad only tight boxer briefs. His defiantly angry monologue is filled with loathsome confessions and utter contempt, which audiences seem to adore.

When Henry picks Ann up on his motorcycle at Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, she asks: “How did it go?”

“I killed – murdered them. Destroyed them,” Henry replies.

“I saved them,” Ann murmurs, climbing behind him before they careen into the darkness.

Initially, Ann is not as famous, but she dazzles her devoted former accompanies-turned-conductor (Simon Helberg) as her career ascends while Henry’s descends. Shades of “A Star is Born.”

Breathlessly chronicled on a ‘showbiz’ TV channel, Henry and Ann marry and their daughter is named Annette. Only she’s not real. She’s a wooden puppet/doll that somewhat resembles ‘Chuckie.’

Written by Ron and Russell Mael – better known as the pop duo Sparks – and directed by Leos Carax (Pola X, Holy Motors) – making his audacious English-language film debut – it’s cerebral, complex and bizarrely compelling.

The characters half-talk, half-sing their thoughts and feelings, a stylized, surreal device that stretches to absurdity as Henry is having oral sex with Ann. “We love each other so much” is a phrase used repeatedly.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Annette is an incoherent, ephemeral 4 – tedious, pretentious poppycock!

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.