Vox Lux is a film directed by Brady Corbet (Thirteen, Melancholia, The Childhood of a Leader) which focuses on the life of teenage prodigy Celeste (Raffrey Cassidy) and her journey to fame. Surviving a traumatic terrorist attack, she is assisted musically by her sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin), where at the memorial service she captures the hearts of mourners, talent manager (Jude Law) and subsequently, all of America. Eighteen years later, we see Celeste (Natalie Portman) fighting to uphold her global status after backlash in a serious scandal, family struggles, addictions, and damaged personal reflections.
Unfolding like a Greek tragedy - the play arrangement structures the film, giving it lengthy performances, and the omniscient narrator (Willem Dafoe) sporadically gives insights into Celeste's life – leaving Corbet's film as unconventional, to say the least. Certain scenes will be jarring to the viewer, due to their raw imagery and shock value – but necessary (I think) to portray the horrific events, which aren't pre-determined. They're unexpected, merciless and nightmarish events. These were only enhanced with an intense score and still camera during these events.
Throughout, every scene was heavy in drama or song (often feeling patchy) but Portman's notable performance, while limited, helped provide solid momentum in the third act after Cassidy's performance. Dafoe's voice provided the best serious yet comedic narration throughout this rollercoaster of a film, often needing that relief.
Melding religious and political references in this musically driven film brings up interesting points of the self-sacrifice these performers go through - despite fabricated and artificial appearances - and what they can also provide to a mourning country.
Minus the disunity, drawn-out performances and strange timings in some parts, I was intrigued. I enjoyed the light comedic side in Vox Lux, the punch from its intense scenes, and characters' hidden motives slowly revealed. Corbet's way of presenting this film has left me with moments from the film stuck with me long after leaving the cinema.
Rating: 7/10 stars
Release Date: 21 February 2019
Director: Brady Corbet
Run Time: 110mins
Watch the trailer here.