Carax’s pop opera Annette which was executive produced by co-star Adam Driver, was met with mixed reviews on Tuesday at the Palais des Festival. The musical about two stars who give birth to a baby girl, is in no way conventional and is full of melancholic songs. Hundreds of people left the screening half way through the film but it didn’t stop the film from getting a standing ovation.
It was interesting for me because even though I had a lot of recognition, but the need is still within me and I was thinking that is it that makes you want to be liked and recognised by people who don’t know you.”Marion Cotillard
The star of Big Bang Simon Helberg, Marion Cotillard, music by brothers Russel and Ron Mael otherwise known as Sparks Brothers have attended the press conference the following day to talk to journalists about the creation of the musical. Adam Driver, we were told, was too busy to attend the press conference to promote the film – something he is contractually obliged to do, if we may remind him.
Speaking at the press conference about the lust for fame of her character (Ann) she revealed that it wasn’t so much about fame but recognition for her. “The picture is about having recognition more than fame. And that we can all relate. We all want to be recognised and loved by our closest people. It was interesting for me because even though I had a lot of recognition, but the need is still within me and I was thinking that is it that makes you want to be liked and recognised by people who don’t know you.”
The film had long gestation time – it was conceived nine years ago by The Sparks Brothers (Russel and Ron Mael) who wrote the original songs and recorded an album. Russel Mael recalled that the brothers originally envisaged starring in the film. “We were thinking that I would do Adam Driver’s or Simon Helberg’s character.” The Sparks Brothers met Carax in Cannes eight years ago as they were fascinated by Carax’s work.
Russel spoke about the initial meeting in Cannes and how it took off from there. “We had album complete and we came to Cannes eight years ago and wanted to meet Leos. We got together here and went back to LA and out of curiosity sent it over to Laos. After a little bit, he’s responded favourably. To do a musical with him was a dream for us. From then on, we worked with Leos sometimes in Paris, sometimes in LA and it was the process of shaping what we’ve originally done.” Russel admits they found a soulmate “who dedicated years of his life to make this project happen is a rare thing. He’s had the same process and dedication as us.”
The feeling was mutual it would appear as Carax later said he discovered Sparks Brothers at a tender age of 13. “I always wanted to do a film with music but I always thought it was impossible. I can’t compose music. Music has rejected me at a young age. You have to meet people to make it happen.” He met Sparks Brothers in Cannes and the rest is history.
Simon shared the how fun it was working ‘with French Director’. “Going to set was like going to church, it was this mystical, beautiful, demanding in beautiful way.” Admittedly, Carax was often asking impossible things on set – physically impossible. Things like “Lifting one hand off the piano while playing. Then another hand… while still playing. Or to sing under water.” The female lead Cotillard chimed in: “It was not possible to walk on 30 cm high heels and not look where I’m going. It was the only day when I said I couldn’t do it. It wasn’t physically possible.” It would appear it’s true then what they say about French directors. And as if we needed yet another testament to that, the great Carax walked out of the press conference cutting his sentence by saying “I must go to the toilet now”.