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Richard E. Grant,
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 ...
Interesting, Artsy Drama Headlined by Natalie Portman
The reviews and trailer for this film promised a strong performance by Natalie Portman as a troubled pop star. While some of the praise for her role in "Vox Lux" may be somewhat overhyped, she does give a generally good performance in this drama directed by Brady Corbet. She plays Celeste, a now-famous pop star who survived a school shooting in 1999. The film gives viewers a grip on how those who get too all-consumed in the superficiality of pop music culture can lose control over their lives, although sometimes the dialogue and writing during these scenes can sometimes feel almost too on-the-nose to be truly impactful on the viewer.
The film is stunningly shot, and its score is often stirring and potent. Jude Law's supporting performance is outstanding, providing a powerfully subdued complement to the main narrative as Celeste's manager. With the exception of the memorial song sung by a young Celeste at a vigil for the shooting victims about ten minutes after film's commencement, the rest of the film's songs (which are pop-based) are generally not too appealing. However, this is likely intentional, as Corbet's direction is intended to make the viewer critique popular culture and its effects on music and society, as well as the possibility that our social obsessions may breed tragic and wretched acts. Despite such potentially-thoughtful commentary, it's not clear by the end of the film what Corbet really wants to say or offer as a message to the narrative besides simply saying that excess tackiness is bad. While superficiality is an important topic, for a film that poses far deeper, existential and angst-filled questions, the film's attempts to thread loose ends of its messaging before the film's finale (a pop concert) feel somewhat skimpy. The film's stronger elements would make it worth of recommending to those who like Natalie Portman and can appreciate sometimes-audacious and challenging films. 7/10
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