There are those who think Brady Corbet (The Childhood of a Leader) is a genuine new cinematic voice and there are those who wonder if this one-time actor made the right choice to move behind the camera. Whichever camp you're in, there's no denying that he is talented, with a unique vision to present to the world and the panache to pull it off. Natalie Portman delivers a sensational performance as a pop diva in Vox Lux, an audacious, jaggedly cynical commentary on celebrity culture in America and a whistlestop tour of two decades of the country's recent history.
In 1999: teenager Celeste (Raffey Cassidy), a survivor of a high school shooting, performs a song composed with her sister (Stacy Martin) at a memorial for her murdered classmates and in so doing, captures the attention of a manager (Jude Law), who sets her on the path to fame. Years later, the now adult Celeste (Portman, with her own daughter now played by Cassidy) is a Gaga-esque global superstar; but so wounded and jaded by the corporate machinery of the music business that she has become an entirely different animal ' a hard-nosed 21st century brand. Burying her neuroses in the toxic excesses of her increasingly artificial world, she is struggling to stage a career rebirth despite personal problems and a scandal that refuses to die.
Corbet is exploring fame as a type of violence, one of many he depicts, and there is rich enjoyment to be had in his study of the contrasts between celebrity and isolation, artifice and art, the nihilistic and the humane. Featuring a magnificent score from the late Scott Walker and songs by Sia, plus arch narration from Willem Dafoe that sets the action at a cool remove, Vox Lux reveals him anew as one of the most dynamic contemporary American filmmakers and offers a stunning showcase for Portman, who evinces a jaw-dropping confidence and élan as Celeste. This is a film that demands the big sound, big screen, immersive experience that only a cinema outing can offer.
Information published by Leisure and Culture Dundee.
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