VIFF Centre Screening | Panorama

Welcome back to the renovated VIFF Centre with the movie that opened the Cannes film festival just last month. The new film from Holy Motors director Leos Carax is a rock opera scripted by Sparks siblings, Ron and Russell Mael (with music and songs by the band). Adam Driver plays a ferocious and provocative stand-up comedian, Henry McHenry, opposite Marion Cotillard as his wife, Anne, a world famous soprano. Their union - which is intensely physical and subject to much tabloid scrutiny - is eventually blessed with a daughter, Annette, who is herself gifted with an extraordinary talent. Yet all is not well in this idyll. As his wife’s fame outstrips his own, Henry dedicates himself to nurturing their daughter’s career…

Did we mention that for most of the movie, Annette is represented by a puppet? This is a Sparks/Carax joint, after all, so you best be prepared to be unprepared. Like many of Sparks’ catchy, pop savvy songs, it’s simultaneously deeply personal and self-consciously silly, sometimes witty, sometimes absurd; like Carax’s movies, it’s romantic, melodramatic, dark, intoxicating and/or just plain toxic. It’s a film about art and desire that gives these (pro-)creative impulses their head, but which also channels a certain disenchantment, anxiety and doubt. It’s in conflict with itself, a movie on a tear which dares you to hold your breath for 140 dreamy minutes. Cinema!

"An altogether weirder, more troubling and personal film than one might expect… but I I suspect that, if nothing else, this astoundingly beautiful picture will stand the test of time." Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

"The Sparks-composed rock opera is an ideal fit with Carax’s enigmatic storytelling, which will take your breath away." Eric Kohn, Indiewire

"It’s hard not to feel stirred, even moved, by the sheer improbable fact of this picture’s existence: Moment by moment, you’re held by its loony flights of lyricism and gorgeous images (shot by Caroline Champetier), and by the mix of sincerity, irony and Sondheimian dissonance that animates every sung-through line." Justin Chang, LA Times

Director Icon Director
Leos Carax

Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, Simon Helberg, Ron Mael, Russell Mael
Screenwriter Ron Mael, Russell Mael, Leos Carax
Cinematographer Caroline Champetier
Editor Nelly Quettier
France 2021 139 min. In English and French with English subtitles 19+ Trailer | Review


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