Annette Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“Annette” / Annette

Genre musical, drama
Directed by Leos Carax
Cast: Adam Driver (Henry McHenry), Marion Cotillard (Anne Defransnou), Simon Helberg (accompanist), Devin McDowell (Annette), Leo Carax (himself), Russell Mail (himself), Ron Mail (in the role of oneself), etc.
Студии AGC Studios, Marquee Entertainment, Red Hour Films
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

The gray-haired man with a cigarette in his hands, sitting in the recording studio, who appears in the first minutes of the film, is director Leos Carax. In a few seconds, he will call his daughter to him and turn to the Sparks with the question “so may we start?”, They will pick up this phrase and begin a musical prologue, which will soon be joined by Marion Cotillard, Adam Driver and Simon Helberg. Together with backing vocalists, the actors will organize a procession through the streets of Los Angeles, and as soon as it ends, a completely different performance will begin – tragic-comical, defiant and emotional.

The protagonist Henry (Adam Driver) is a successful stand-up comedian with a crude and cynical sense of humor who makes fun of life while meeting praise from the audience. Anne (Marion Cotillard) is a well-known opera singer, dearly loved by the audience, who experiences death every evening, playing the main role in a theatrical performance. They fall in love and get married, attracting the attention of the public. Soon a daughter is born to them, but one of them embarks on the path of self-destruction, not finding inspiration in new circumstances.


After its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival (where Leos Carax won the Best Director award), critics hailed the film as a rock opera, a daring performance and an unfortunate madness that ultimately delights. The film really evokes controversial emotions, and during viewing they are constantly changing – there are no taboos in Annette and there are practically no respite from musical numbers, if you do not take into account Henry’s stand-up. Actors sing during intimate scenes, hear songs in their dreams, and hum their lines while committing crimes. However, this is not the strangest part of the film.

The girl Annette – the daughter of the main characters – appears on the screen in the form of a wooden doll with bending limbs. She moves, blinks, and studies her parents with a barely perceptible babble. The appearance of a child can only confuse the audience who expected to see a real baby, but a movie couple in love will treat the doll as if it were a living baby, rocking it to sleep and putting it to sleep.


The demonstration of a puppet in the film is not just a desire to shock or make a reference to the long-standing work of Sparks (the group released video clips twice, which featured theatrical puppets). In fact, it is also a way of showing that one of the parents becomes a puppeteer – he takes on the role of guardian and shows tenderness, but in reality he himself remains a long time on the sidelines, turning parenting into exploitation and being late in expressing sincere feelings.

Surely the description of the film seems repulsive to many, and the plot is too caricatured and far from standard cinema. But, believe me, “Annette” is still worth seeing. This is a bright, well-staged drama that never freezes in one place and sometimes becomes like a painting come to life (by the way, the poster shows a fragment of a dance during a storm, which becomes one of the most memorable fragments).


In addition, the duet of Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, who have never starred together before, is extremely interesting to watch. They, emphasizing the dissimilarity of their heroes, become an unusual couple in love who sings about strong feelings for each other. Most of all, their essence is manifested while working on stage, where both play completely different roles, saving and destroying their audience. It is noteworthy that Driver has more screen time, besides, he gets ambiguous remarks in which he shows his acting skills, however, Cotillard is also beautiful in presenting her heroine.

There is another actor in the film who shows himself from a new side. This is Simon Helberg, best known for his comedic role in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory. In the musical, Helberg plays the role of an accompanist and conductor who performs with an opera singer. Here he forgets about the role of a comedian and only in one scene deliberately overacts, telling the viewer his annoying story in his hearts and periodically interrupting for a rehearsal with the orchestra members.


In Cannes, the musical drama “Annette” was presented in the main competition. She did not take the main prize, but became one of the most discussed films of the festival, which is quite understandable – it is not every day that you can see a film with Sparks songs. In these compositions, by the way, there are repeated lines that Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard sing over and over again, fixing the love story in the phrase “we love each other so much”. It is likely that such cyclical nature may alienate the audience, as well as a certain grotesque in the direction of Leos Carax, but it is still worth trying to see the musical. It is not like other musical films.

Pros: performances by Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard; musical material of the group Sparks; interesting staging; puppet Cons: The repetition in songs and the grotesqueness of the story can turn off audiences Conclusion:

Annette is an experimental musical with no taboos. Thanks to the performance of Driver and Cotillard, the film is worth watching.

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