Saturday, December 15, 2018

Vox Lux

Movie Name: Vox Lux
Year of Release: 2018
Director: Brady Corbet
Stars: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Stacy Martin, Willem Dafoe, Jennifer Ehle, Christopher Abbott, Matt Servitto, Erik King, Meg Gibson
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Synopsis & Review:
Actor and Director Brady Corbet has followed his debut feature "The Childhood of a Leader" with this observation on violence, the price of fame, the instantaneous and quickly forgotten nature of current events (even dramatic ones). The film follows the story of Celeste, a young girl who in 1999 experiences a traumatic event, when the high school where she goes to experiences a dramatic and traumatizing shooting rampage (from one of her classmates). Celeste suffers a serious gun-wound, and while recovering in the hospital, composes a powerful anthem with her sister Ellie. The song captures the attention of talent scouts, and soon Celeste has an agent, and her career quickly skyrockets, always with the assistance of her sister. The film then jumps to 2017, and Celeste is now a recognized public figure, with a teenage daughter, and she's releasing a new album, after a few dramatic occurrences in her personal life. We accompany her in the day she's about to start touring, and we get to witness her handling the press, her family, agent and fans.
"Vox Lux" is an interesting even if a bit uneven of a film, but one that is memorable immediately for three things: stylistically the film is impeccably shot, the score from Scott Walker and Sia is fantastic, and the film features a cracking performance from Natalie Portman, unlike any of her previous work. Brady Corbet manages to capture the evolution and the arc of Celeste from her early childhood, through her challenging adolescence, and finally her somewhat bitter adulthood. It's a film that goes in a different direction from what Bradley Cooper did with "A Star is Born": where this latter film went for a certain naturalistic approach, Corbet goes for a stylized observation on fame, instant recognition, and the fleeting attention span that arrests people's attention. It's a film that has sections possessed of a voice and point of view that are strong and arresting, namely the relationship between the sisters, but also a bit uneven in how it gives Celeste some dubious rantings and monologues that are seemingly philosophical, but that end up a bit hollow. The film hits its strongest notes when it lets Natalie Portman shine, and she gets an opportunity to create and inhabit a performer from Long Island who is somewhat loud, out of control, but also effective on putting on a show. The cinematography from Lol Crawley is beautiful, perfectly capturing the different modes of Celeste's life. It's a very interesting film from a young director.