A musical starring Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard as lovers caught in an ominous relationship kicked off the Cannes movie competition on Tuesday (July 6), bringing rock riffs and operatic airs to the film festival for its big comeback night.

Directed by French director Leos Carax, heady and highly theatrical “Annette” proved a fitting big-screen pick for the cinema showcase, after its 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Set to a soundtrack by U.S. pop and rock duo Sparks, the tale partly dwells on the world of performers and the corrosive effects of fame.

At times almost absurd, and deeply poignant at others, the film occasionally pushed its stars to their singing limits, Driver said.

The actor, who plays a sardonic stand-up comedian who falls for shy opera singer Ann before their love turns sour, previously had a fleeting singing scene in 2019’s “Marriage Story”, but belts his way through his character’s highs and lows in this film.

Cotillard, who won an Oscar in 2008 for Edith Piaf biopic “La Vie en Rose”, needed back-up for her vocals on some arias.

The stars reaped broad praise for their performance in early reviews on Tuesday, with Indiewire critics singling out Driver as a “deranged force of nature” in particular.

Originally imagined as an album by brothers Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks, the film also impressed reviewers, despite many recognising its patchy or puzzling moments.

The story takes on a darker turn when Driver’s comedian and Cotillard’s soprano have a child, Annette, and their relationship begins to disintegrate as his star fades and she goes on to ever greater success.

“Annette” will be released in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Poland and other countries in August and September.