Adam Driver’s ‘Annette’ Makes Waves at Cannes as ‘Acid Trip’ and ‘True Sh–post of a Movie’

Cannes 2021: “Holy Motors” director Leos Carax’s pop opera featuring music from Sparks opens the festival

"Annette" Opening Night Cannes Adam Driver Marion Cotillard
(L-R) Angele, Simon Helberg, Marion Cotillard, director Leos Carax, Adam Driver, Russell Mael and Ron Mael attend the "Annette" screening and opening ceremony/(Photo by Kate Green/Getty Images)

Well that’s one way to kick off Cannes.

“Annette,” the opening-night film of the festival that stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, turned some heads Tuesday with some surreal, head-scratching moments and a few divisive reactions from critics, even as it earned a five-minute standing ovation from the crowd.

“Holy Motors” director Leos Carax’s latest film is a pop opera with a story and original songs by the duo Sparks, and the movie features everything from a marionette baby, musical head trips and, as at least one critic pointed out, two shots of Driver even briefly singing into Cotillard’s vagina.

“I thought Adam Driver doing Bo Burnham-style stand-up and having a horrifying robot baby with Marion Cotillard was weird but ‘Annette’ just kept outdoing itself,” critic Iana Murray wrote of the film. “A true s—post of a movie. Don’t know if i like it yet but i respect the audacity.”

TheWrap’s Steve Pond wrote in his review of the film out of Cannes that when “Holy Motors” premiered at the festival nine years ago, it was such a radical shock placed in the dead center of so many other films. That film, despite being a critical darling, had its fair share of polarized reactions and boos at Cannes. But “Annette” is the opening night film and is setting the tone this year, and it doesn’t quite reach the level of crazy of its predecessor.

But when Carax’s new film, “Annette,” premiered at Cannes on Tuesday, it faced a tougher road. The French filmmaker, after all, has the opening-night competition slot this year, which means his new film can’t come as a breath of fresh, weird air the way his last film did. This year, he’s setting the tone, not providing the contrast.

“Besides, ‘Annette’ (an Amazon Studios release) may be bonkers in its own way, but it’s less bonkers than “’Holy Motors’ was,” Pond wrote. “Carax set the bizarro bar very high nine years ago, and his first movie since then proves that he’s still a nutty filmmaker by turning his nuttiness into a full-fledged musical. That’s fun, for a while, and then it’s kind of exhausting, something that ‘Holy Motors,’ with a similar two-hour-and-20-minute running time, never was.”

“Annette” is set in present-day Los Angeles and stars Driver as a stand-up comic and Cotillard as a world-renowned opera singer who together fall in love and make a passionate, glamorous couple, but find their lives turned upside down when their first child, Annette, turns out to be a mysterious little girl with an exceptional destiny.

This of course is a Leos Carax film, and if “Holy Motors” is any indicator, that description barely scratches the surface of what the film is actually about or contains.

In fact, much was made of a viral tweet that leaked ahead of the “Annette” premiere in which a quote from Cotillard suggested that Driver was the first ever to perform an original song while also miming “cunnilingus.”

And whether Driver is the “first,” he does have a moment in “Annette” in which he and Cotillard sing a number called “We Love Each Other So Much.” When the song culminates in the two in bed and having sex, Carax shows a brief shot from the head of the bed in which Driver pokes his head up from between Cotillard’s legs and continues to sing.

As some critics indicated, that might not even be the wildest moment of the film, despite the early reaction online.

“Leos Carax made a Sparks musical about how self-loathing men can’t accept love and Adam Driver sings into Marion Cotillard’s vagina (twice!) and then she gives birth to a marionette baby and I was just deeply bored by every dour, self-amused, bat— second of it,” Indiewire critic David Ehrlich wrote.

See some of the other online reaction to “Annette” below.

Check out TheWrap’s digital Cannes magazine issue here. You can find all of TheWrap’s Cannes coverage here.

TheWrap Cannes issue cover


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