By Joanna Langfield

World not crazy enough for you? Well, strap in, baby, because here comes Annette.

There actually is a narrative to hold onto in Leos Carax’s nightmarish, operatic love story. And it’s a good one. Henry, a performance artist and alleged comedian, falls madly in love with Ann, one of the world’s most successful opera stars.  The seemingly unlikely coupling grows into something no one, or maybe everyone, would have predicted, when baby Annette comes along.

Carax fans will appreciate his more than offbeat take on all this and I really enjoyed the score, from Ron and Russel Mael of Sparks. But as much as I wanted to bury myself in the eccentricity, my willingness, along with my patience, grew thin. Marion Cotillard is fine as the much adored Ann. And those who loved Simon Helberg in the Big Bang Theory will, I hope, root for his very different kind of work in this one. Is it giving too much away to mention the physicality of baby Annette? Carax, being Carax, I guess, mounts the kid, for most of the movie, as something that reminded me of the Chucky doll. Which may, or may not, forecast just who’s the problem here.

But, truly, this is a movie about Henry, who is at the very least gamely played by Adam Driver. A role like this feels like catnip for a serious actor who’s happy to stretch. And stretch he does. But there are big chunks of time when Driver does not project the furious magnetism that Henry seems to need. And that, even without the challenge of the rest of the filmmaking, would have taken the audience on a ride of self-reflection that I, for one, would have found very, very cool.