Entering the Discourse is a thrice-weekly column where we dig into who is saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today, we discuss the buzz around Leos Carax’s new film Annette and its titillating oral sex scene.
Have you heard the news? In Leos Carax’s new film, Annette, there’s a scene in which Adam Driver sings while simulating cunnilingus on Marion Cotillard. Yes, you read that right. In a musical first, oral sex and the act of crooning have been combined into one fascinating cinematic experience.
Carax, who previously directed the dazzling fever dream Holy Motors, is back after almost a decade with a comedy-drama musical that he made in collaboration with Sparks, the very same band that is the topic of Edgar Wright’s new documentary, The Sparks Brothers.
Annette is about a stand-up comedian (Driver) and his opera-singer wife (Cotillard) who have a two-year-old daughter, the titular Annette, with a strange gift. And that gift, as revealed at its Cannes-opener premiere, is that she is a marionette puppet who can sing like an adult.
Even with the label of musical being placed on the film, Carax stays true to his particular brand of cinematic madness, all while supporting the musical talents of Sparks. Even the trailer for Annette is an epic journey that involves a lot of dramatic stage performances, Driver looking very stoic, Cotillard with a variety of strange hairstyles, and chanting crowds crazy for Annette.
As for the musical aspect of Annette, in an interview included in the press notes at the film festival (shared by Insider), Cotillard reveals that all of the singing was done live on set rather than dubbed over with studio recordings.
“It added to the complexity of the set: we found ourselves singing in very complicated positions, doing back-crawling or mimicking cunnilingus,” she says, “acrobatic positions that technically modify your song.”
Just very casually dropping in an interview that Driver sang live while going down on her. However, importantly, it has been clarified that in Annette, Driver is not in fact singing and performing the oral sex act on Cotillard simultaneously. Instead, he pauses his singing to do the deed.
Such a scene is rather unusual in movie musicals, as explicit sexual scenarios are often teased but never fully shown. Cotillard touched on this in her interview. “We strangely never see people f—ing or doing trivial things in musical comedies,” she acknowledges.
With Annette, Carax and Sparks want to challenge the expectations of the movie musical, and they clearly do just that.
The initial reception of Annette out of Cannes, including the review by FSR’s own Luke Hicks, is overall positive while also addressing problems such as its too-long runtime, its own self-indulgence, and a lack of utilizing Cotillard’s talents in favor of Driver’s own mad performance.
Annette opens theatrically in limited release on August 6th before making its streaming debut on Amazon Prime Video on August 20th.