It’s a fascinatingly tense and unpredictable effort, despite its setting and misleading character role

Allowing for a love of ambiguity to infect a film can often leave its audience somewhat sour, and without giving enough information to grasp, offering at least some answers to the film’s greatest mysteries, there’s a real danger of tainting it’s ability to please by simply being just too hazy.

Vox Lux, director Brady Corbet’s second feature, toes that line particularly sharply, leaving itself open for those experiencing the unique nature of the piece to land either side off the tightrope. A proverbial ‘Marmite’ problem, except this time Corbet’s doused the jar in sequins and an inordinate amount of glitter.

Experiencing a viciously traumatic moment in her childhood, Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) becomes an international star with her self-written song taking the headlines at the memorial. Drafted quickly into pop stardom, Celeste’s new manager (Jude Law) organises her life, along with that of her older sister Ellie (Stacy Martin). Picking up the story 17 years later, Celeste (Natalie Portman) is now world famous, with a distant daughter and flaws deeply affecting, both her and those directly around her.

Vox Lux 2

From its cinematography to its story structure, Vox Lux is an intricately developed and delivered feature that openly considers itself to be a piece of art. With a resistance to use haste or a quick pace to move the story forward, there’s a strong sense of settling into each scene, often with long pauses and moments to reflect on its current tone and themes. This is particularly poignant when Vox Lux stretches the boundaries of how emotional a film of this nature can become, and what that means for the constantly changing thematics of the piece. There are key moments to the feature that pose real shifts in how characters are perceived, and Corbet has produced them with incredible efficiency and some genuine shock value.

Naturally, Natlie Portman becomes the key focus of the piece, with her character, Celeste, changing considerably over the 17 years featured, but in reality her part in the production is far smaller than it would first seem. Her role as the older version of the character is essentially a reflective and responsive version of the groundwork young Raffey Cassidy laid for the opening section of the film. It’s the hardest hitting passage, and that slowly drifts away as the Portman driven side becomes far more reliant on the character creation of an aged and affected Celeste.

Culminating in the cinematically wonderful stage show, there’s a real tension to the piece set out from the opening scene, becoming a genuine presence throughout Vox Lux. It’s a fascinatingly tense and unpredictable effort, despite its setting and misleading character role. Being such a fore-frontal public figure and a pop star, the immunity and immortality of Celeste is never more clearly broadcast than her final moments before entering the stage for her enormous performance, transitioning into the world renowned music act from mere human. It’s a fascinating climax of every minute event the film has focused on up to that point, and proves just how excellent Corbet’s work is.

5/5

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