The two films today incorporate Music, but in strange and unusual ways. The Cannes film Annette is an outright musical, but nothing like what you’d expect. While Reminiscence is a futuristic drama, with one man pining for a mysterious chanteuse.

Annette (Amazon Prime) – French movie Director Leos Carax has always taken the path of most resistance, creating films that challenge, infuriate, and stray far from the mainstream. Pairing him with the Mael Brothers of the unconventional rock band Sparks, who wrote the screenplay and music of this drama musical, is like adding gasoline to kerosene and waiting for things to combust. That they do, with a narrative about a stand up comedian Henry (Adam Driver) who falls in love with a renowned opera star, Anne (Marion Cotillard), and have a daughter named Annette. The film revolves around the price of fame and celebrity as Henry’s star begins to wane, while Anne’s stays as bright as ever, creating tension and mental insecurities on the part of Henry.

The second half of the film is weirdness itself, as the story takes lurid turns as it focuses on Annette and her own talent, but Annette is played by a wooden doll. There’s obviously a little bit of Pinocchio here, and if you’ve stayed this long, you’ll want to watch this to its conclusion. Driver is fun to watch as he commands most of the attention; but as I’ve said this is a musical, know that this isn’t Sound of Music, Fair Lady, or even La La Land and In the Heights. Sparks was a precursor to bands such as Queen, and it’s obvious that they’ve been given great liberties here, with a soundtrack that plays so much with both rock and opera, and a storyline that borders on the absurd and surreal. I’ll confess there are some very good parts to this film, but it was a challenge to watch.

Reminiscence (HBO Max) – Think of films such as Blade Runner, Vanilla Sky, Minority Report, and Casablanca. Yes, Casablanca; now if you put all those films into a blender, you just might come up with a potion that’s called Reminiscence, the movie. I kid you not, this Hugh Jackman starrer, the first feature film directed by Lisa Joy of Westworld fame, will remind you of all those films listed above. Jackman plays a scientist who helps people relive their memories by being submerged in some shallow bath, and having all these electrodes attached to their head. It’s when the Rebecca Ferguson character comes into his lab that he suddenly finds himself falling in love, and pining for her when she mysteriously disappears. Thandie Newton plays the lab assistant – a role she could have played while asleep.

The problem with this film is that given all those references and influences, does this film actually work? Producers actually had high hopes for the film, given the Jackman-Ferguson pairing, as they worked together in The Greatest Showman. But honestly, this one, set in a future, half-submerged Miami, is as waterlogged as it’s setting. The only similarity to that romanticized Barnum biopic is that Ferguson once again, plays a singer. And that’s where the similarity stops. It’s a shame, as there are actually strong elements at play here, and Jackman has always been a dependable actor and box-office draw. But I doubt even he can save this film from ending up on the trash heap of over-budgeted film projects released in 2021. It’s juggling too many balls in the air and as far as I’m concerned, there are far too many that have dropped to the ground.

Source: Manila Bulletin (