As I grow older in years (and yet newer every day), I’ve noticed I become more and more particular. I’m becoming the type of person who refuses to allow people and experiences to waste my time—in fact, I get irritated when I feel they do. I walked out on a movie for the first time in my life recently because I felt the filmmaker wasn’t doing the legwork to warrant my attention. Pretentious, right?
While I will not utter the name of the film I walked out on, I will recommend a film that absolutely did not waste my time. Leos Carax’s Annette made me realize I hadn’t felt so thrilled while watching a movie in a long, long time. Certainly I have loved movies over the past year and I wouldn’t even say this was my favorite among them. So what did Annette achieve? It tickled me. To death.
Annette is a film I won’t be surprised if some people walk out on. Carax, along with the pop-duo-turned-screenwriters Ron and Russel Mael of Sparks, make choices. Nothing about this film is conventional and for some it may even be upsetting. For others, it will be pure whimsy. For everyone, it will be a ride.
Adam Driver continues his track record of portraying troubled, oddball men with deep capacities for love and unfortunate penchants for violence. The storyline is as dramatic as an opera should be (very) and the lyrics are often so simple you find yourself wondering if it’s all meant to be a joke. Over and over the protagonist lovebirds state their feelings in song to the point where you no longer believe them.
Still, the love story is beautifully shot and the more than 2-hour movie is paced in a way that, at least for me, didn’t make it feel quite so long. I was enraptured by this study of a self-deprecating standup comedian (think Bo Burnam’s comedy style meets Russell Brand’s sensibility) in love with a pixie-like opera singer who dies on stage night by night. I refuse to give you spoilers, but the two birth an incredible little girl, and Driver’s insecure and intense brand of love is put to the test.?
The staff at Ragtag Cinema is completely divided on this film. And that’s how we like it. Cinema isn’t a guarantee. Hollywood blockbusters like their formulas. They beat out their storylines with precision because audiences, whether they know it or not, can feel and anticipate the beats of a story. The problem is, when a movie comes off a bureaucratic Burbank-approved conveyor belt, we often stop being challenged. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the new Space Jam, or that all major studio films lack substance. It’s that when we challenge ourselves with less conventional material, we grow. And whether we like the film or not, we allow filmmakers with much more creative autonomy to take us on a journey.
I don’t know about you, but I want to see artists take risks. We vote with our dollars, and I implore you to vote for risky films. You may adore it, you may feel rage. Either way, you will take part in fighting for a world where bold films continue to get funding and distribution.
Annette plays through Thursday, August 12. Take a deep breath and spend your night in a way that’s not only interesting, but impactful.