Vox Lux follows the rise of Celeste from the ashes of a major national tragedy to pop super stardom. The film spans 18 years and traces important cultural moments through her eyes, starting in 1999 and concluding in 2017. In 1999, teenage Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) survives a violent tragedy. After singing at a memorial service, Celeste transforms into a burgeoning pop star with the help of her songwriter sister (Stacy Martin) and a talent manager (Jude Law). Celeste's meteoric rise to fame and concurrent loss of innocence dovetails with a shattering terrorist attack on the nation, elevating the young powerhouse to a new kind of celebrity: American icon, secular deity, global superstar. By 2017, adult Celeste (Natalie Portman) is mounting a comeback after a scandalous incident that derailed her career. Touring in support of her sixth album, a compendium of sci-fi anthems entitled Vox Lux, the indomitable, foul-mouthed pop savior must overcome her personal and familial struggles to ...
This is like the coda to the 90s in a different purgatory reality. Manson, Columbine etc. That would be the last generation, where Gen X was cleanly drawn that the music icons mattered. Of course the film is reflecting this to Trump, and these are its mechanics in excess and madness having some avatar. The consequences are disastrous. She is a reaction to violence, not privilege, in that the creation of the icon will also distance her creating privilege, forming an endless loop. The film's violence, snail pace, opening credits, chapter credits, articulation of the narration, are maybe the most pretentious series of decisions you'll ever see. But I justified this as the first half is basically high school poetry. Self-pity. The world presented terribly, but it weaves with its second half which both reflects and deflects. It molds her in the fires, then it takes this all a step further framing the other half as 'reality martyrdom.' The externalization of trauma she was built to venge. The window into her art, image and past shown like tidbits into a plausible music icon, that does not show in between but both ends then hints at the rest forming avant, conceptual cinema. All this has a consequence because art and trauma are the same. "You used to believe in god, now you should believe in me." The film is aware that you keep asking what is this? Who? What? Why? It seems to delight in every tangent with glee, none of it registers, but then suddenly, three quarters in, it clicks. Unexpectedly it becomes iconic, this mesh of indie cinema, theater, and performance art. You see she's Celeste not taking a stage-name, it constantly brings home. The sister wrote the songs. The management hopelessly defends her. She wears the pop star as religiosity which comes at a cost weaving pain into art, rotting her psyche, friends and family around her. Dafoe's literary balancing her as this arcangel redeemer through the gentle side of his divinity, same as classical music balancing the pop music. Remember he played Christ. They all suffer because she's society's burden to bear, as in, it argues society deserves exactly what it gets. Problem for me is subversion shows a relief valve for a healthy society which is why rock and roll eras follow times of economic prosperity not worldwide strife and division. So it's some kind of alternate history that ignores the last twenty years creating the throughline as Reaganomics->Trump->GenX->Columbine->Trump in a blender. Never thought I'd see these post-post-9/11 works that present an entirely different foundation of the 21st century than we've been fed for twenty years.
Post-Note: Better for her message at the end: 'As I died I felt myself at peace and wanted to stay in the perfect light, but the devil said I must return as they'd fallen, so I must rise.'
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