[Review] 'Vox Lux' is a Dazzling Introspection Into Stardom
VOX LUX is a remarkable and compelling 21st century portrait – the product of Brady Corbet’s captivating vision.
The film is split into two acts, The first act centers around two sisters who survive a school shooting in 1999, at the dawn of the new millennium. They write and perform a song about this experience, which helps launch the younger sister, Celeste, to stardom. The second act focuses on Celeste as an adult, primarily looking at the decisions she’s made in building up to who she is now, and the effects fame and stardom has had on her.
The character study has such a unique voice and message, being very impactful in its deliverance, due to Corbet’s unconventional direction of the film, and Willem Dafoe’s intimidating narration.
It’s distinct and very much individual in its peculiarity and notability, warranting it to stand out on its own compared to other films and character studies.
Whilst Corbet’s direction does indeed help the film in setting its integral structure up, the performances from the film’s stellar cast are what drive the film.
Raffey Cassidy plays not one, but two characters. In the first act, she plays young Celeste Montgomery, as she navigates through fame and adolescence as a teenager. In the second act, she plays Albertine, Celeste’s daughter when she’s grown up.
Raffey is possibly one of the best young actresses in Hollywood right now. She was great in Tomorrowland, and even better in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of A Sacred Deer, but Vox Lux is the film where she truly gets to shine as the acting talent she is.
Whilst her performance as Albertine, in the second act, is very limited to only a few minutes of screen-time, she gives one of my favorite performances of the year in the first act, as Young Celeste. It’s a truly natural and explorative performance from the young actress, made even more phenomenal by the humble and curious nature of its presence in such a fiercely vigorous film.
A career-best Natalie Portman, playing the grown-up Celeste, is a polar opposite of her younger co-star and character’s younger-self, giving a highly contrasting performance, that shows her character’s loss of innocence and progression from adolescence into adulthood.
The performance is equally loud, as it is broken. Its a mesmerizing and emotionally-rooted performance that really steals the show, due to its concealed, yet extroverted temperament, making it highly relatable and very much so human.
In two smaller roles are Stacey Martin and Jude Law, who are brilliantly uninhibited and innate. Stacey plays Celeste’s sister, Eleanor, who writes Celeste’s songs and helps catapult her into stardom, after she writes a song about their experience, which Celeste performs. Jude Law plays her passionate unnamed manager, who helps to bring her to worldwide fame.
The film is undeniably beautiful as well, being gorgeously shot, despite the minimalism of its grounded cinematography. The musical drama also showcases a mesmerizing opening credits that features a gorgeous, intense, and cold long-tracking shot.
Corbet’s arguable masterpiece is polarizing, eloquently expressive, and significantly meaningful. It’s impactful in its powerful, and at times, intense message. VOX LUX is revolutionary modern cinema at its best.