Art pop icons Sparks will be debuting their new musical film Annette at the 74th Cannes Film Festival. Via Pitchfork, Sparks’ Ron and Russell Mael wrote the screenplay and provided original music, including newly-released song “So May We Start” featuring vocals from Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, and Simon Helberg.
Annette follows a stand-up comedian (Driver), his famous opera-singer wife (Cotillard), and the opera’s conductor (Helberg), after the singer gives birth to a daughter, Annette. The project started off as a concept album with a strong narrative thrust, perhaps something along the lines of Styx’s Kilroy Was Here. But that intention changed after they shared the idea with French filmmaker Leos Carax (Boy Meets Girl, Holy Motors). Carax became interested in the plot, eventually co-penning the script and directing. In a statement, Sparks talked how their album idea ended up as a movie at Cannes, explaining,
“Initially, we conceived Annette as another Sparks album. Yet this time it would be a narrative story that would consist of three main characters, a small enough ensemble that would allow us to also present the “opera” live on tour…. The music, story and album were finished and ready to go, which is where the story takes a huge detour. After meeting Leos at Cannes, we felt a real kinship, so we thought we would send him Annette, not expecting anything other than to show him what Sparks was currently up to. And lo and behold, he said he really liked the album and would like to consider it as his next project. We were happily surprised and elated at his reaction. As fans of Leos’ films, to now realize that he would be directing a film of ours was beyond our dreams.”
As for “So May We Start”, it features the bombastic songwriting and dry wit that made Sparks so beloved. “So, may we start?” one man asks at the beginning of the track, and then, when nothing happens, another chimes in, “So, may we start?” Finally, the track commences, with driving pianos and guitars, and vocal lines that alternate between Sparks and a chorus of the cast. Check out that, as well as a previously-released trailer for Annette, below.
Annette will open Cannes on July 6th, where it will compete for the Palme d’Or with Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and Paul Verhoeven’s Bendetta. Afterwards, it will play in theaters starting August 6th and come to Amazon Prime on August 20th. This isn’t Sparks only experience with high-profile film festivals this year; Edgar Wright’s documentary The Sparks Brothers debuted to rave reviews at Sundance in January. That film will come to North American theaters on June 18th. We recently spoke to Sparks and Wright about the documentary, and you can scroll onwards to watch the video interview. In April, Sparks shared the new song “Your Fandango” featuring Todd Rundgren.