Leos Carax and Sparks’ ‘Annette’ Evolution: A Failed Tim Burton Musical, 80 Original Songs, and More

Leos Carax and Sparks’ ‘Annette’ Evolution: A Failed Tim Burton Musical, 80 Original Songs, and More
[Editor’s note: This article was originally published in August 2021 and has been updated. It includes some mild spoilers about the plot of “Annette.”]

This has been a most unusual year for Sparks. The pop rock duo, comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, have adapted to the strange trajectory of their fame that has followed them for 50-odd years. Despite some diehard fans in the U.S., their energetic and eclectic compositions have been far more appreciated across Europe. Needless to say, it took a few Europeans to bring Sparks back into the limelight. First came the June release of Edgar Wright’s sprawling documentary “The Sparks Brothers,” which reintroduced them to American audiences just in time for “Annette” to open the Cannes Film Festival in July. The unorthodox rock opera marks the latest undertaking by elusive French auteur Leos Carax, whose previous feature, “Holy Motors,” came out nearly a decade ago.

Carax never really stopped working. The filmmaker spent almost eight years collaborating with Sparks on “Annette,” which stars Adam Driver as Henry,
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