DIRECTOR: brady corbet (the childhood of a leader)
STARRING: natalie portman, jude law, raffey cassidy, and willem dafoe
REVIEWER: nick tonkin
Celeste is a 13-year-old music prodigy who survives a horrific school shooting in Staten Island, N.Y., in 1999. Her talent shines through during the memorial service when she sings a song that touches the hearts of the mourners. Guided by her sister and a talent manager, the young phenom transforms into a rising pop star with a promising future. Eighteen years later, Celeste now finds herself on the comeback trail when a scandal, personal struggles and the pitfalls of fame threaten her career.
Following the career origin through to the present successes of the pop superstar Celeste, Vox Lux tells the story of Celeste’s relationship with fame and its impact upon her life. With original songs written by Sia furnishing it and a real eye for early-2000’s pop styling, Vox Lux is a unique exploration of fame through Celeste’s life and experience.
Vox Lux is an audacious and stylish film that will stay with you; whether it be the songs written by Sia and performed by Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman - Cassidy’s rendition of Wrapped Up especially has stuck in my mind – or the imposing photography of New York architecture married with Scott Walker’s soundtrack and Willem Dafoe’s cold, unsympathetic narration that grab you, there is much to take in from this peculiar film.
The story starts literally in darkness, as a tragic event is being planned. This event serves as a turning point for Cassidy’s character Celeste, being the springboard which propels her into fame and stardom. What is not immediately obvious is what the film is trying to say about fame and its consequences, especially following such tragedy the film opens with. Are the characters surrounding Celeste just fickle opportunists, is one herself? It is likely that our interpretations of this will be different and this I suspect is what the film sought to achieve.
The film is told in three acts, the first following Cassidy’s Celeste with both the second and third following Portman’s Celeste following a lifetime of fame. The third is something of a bold move on the part of the film-makers, and is what I will remember this film for – the conclusion to the story being presented through a lavish and intense concert performance. It is something really quite astounding.
Vox Lux is a curious film, one that has strong notions of style and showcases such talent from the film-makers, but I would hesitate recommending this to a causal movie-goer. There is much to appreciate while it is on, and plenty to mull over long after it has finished. If that sounds like your cup of tea and you appreciate a bit of a challenge then Vox Lux is certainly worth your time.
Vox Lux is an audacious and stylish film that will stay with you long after the credits roll.