Vox lux is an ambitious film tackling a whole matter of ideas, reliant on subtext and expressionism in this intense and unnerving film from Brady Corbet. The film is full of colour, careful framing and creative shots proving Corbet to be a true Auteur and mastermind when it comes to controlling his films.
The film is divided into three acts, backed by the commanding and uneasy voice of Willem Dafoe as he tells the audience of this tragic tale as it plays out. Documenting Celeste’s strange yet tragic rise to stardom, with Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy playing the young and old version of the character.
Rafael Cassidy pulls a double shift as young Celeste and Celeste’s daughter in the future, displaying her range of performance in an incredibly nuanced way. Additionally, Natalie Portman puts on an Oscar worthy performance as the tragic future version of Celeste through her raw and unnerving actions in a completely contrasting way to our prior version of Celeste.
The story follows Celeste, beginning in tragedy which launches her into an uncertain career in music – after surviving a school shooting in a scene that is absolutely horrifying. Her love of music is a form of therapy, as she recovers from a gun shot wound to the spine. Sparking her rise to fame is a song her and her sister (Stacy Martin) wrote for remembrance in for the lost lives. Catapulting us into Act 2 on her rise to fame which is both shocking and ripe with tragedy.
The film terrifically captures the complete contrast from Act 1 to 3 in Corbet’s jump from realism to expressionism as he has stated, this jump in character was done as a way to show how a person can be twisted from an angelic figure of hope to a famous wreck. Corbett’s messaged is etched into the narrative with her name relating to the heavens, the idea of sacrificing innocence and perhaps humanity to a life of fame and misfortune effects her family and her persona as a public figure becomes more and more unstable.
The film was never intended to be a music piece, but as the story was written it lined up said Corbet (at the BFI London Film Festival 2018) using the music in a subliminal way that with her extreme links to terrorism in the film, creates an uneasy link to the Manchester Attacks. This creates fear in the spectator as Portman dives into Sia’s symbolic “Vox Lux”.
Vox Lux is an outstanding showcase in a director’s distinct vision, with Corbet’s ambition reached successfully through remarkable visuals and subtext captured through a spectator’s lens. The dialogue is sharp, cinematography ripe with expression and the sound piercing – in this circular nature of social decay routed through violence.
The film ends with a twist, routing Vox Lux in a grander scheme offering multiple interpretations to all the events prior – Brady Corbet successfully captures the circular nature of a decaying society routed in tragedy, surrounding the pop star appeal of Celeste.
Vox Lux is set to be released December 7th in the US and premiered at Venice International Film Festival on September 4th 2018