While Natalie Portman presents a stellar performance, Vox Lux as a whole suffers by feeling almost aimless – thanks to its ending.
|Written By||Brady Corbet|
|Good If You Like||Run of the Mill Pop Music|
Movies Which Feel Like They Are Supposed to Make You Feel You Are Peering Behind A Curtain
Films That Have A Documentary Vibe Without Being A Documentary
|Celeste (Adult)||Natalie Portman|
|Celeste (Teen)/ Albertine||Raffey Cassidy|
|The Manager||Jude Law|
|The Narrator (Possibly The Devil)||Willem Dafoe|
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Vox Lux‘s Plot (Ending on 2nd Page)
In four acts we go through the rise of Celeste. A New Brighton, Staten Island, NY native who, thanks to a school shooting she survived, alongside a song she performed thereafter, became one of the biggest pop artists in the world. However, the journey from an 8th grade shot for talking about praying with the shooter to being one of the biggest artists in the world was quite rocky.
In this journey, there is the betrayal that comes from Celeste’s sister Eleanor. The estranged relationship Celeste has with her daughter Albertine, and then her manager. The man who is responsible for the highs and lows of Celeste’s life in more ways than one. He may not take full credit for it though. While Celeste presented herself as this innocent Christian in the beginning, she evolves into somewhat of an atheist. Someone who feels empowered by her success and yet may owe it all to making a deal with the devil. But, until the time comes to pay what the devil is due, it seems Celeste plans to live the life that once felt like it was never promised to her.
Question(s) Left Unanswered
- Was this movie supposed to seem like a documentary, considering Willem Dafoe was the narrator or was he supposed to be the devil Celeste made a deal with?
There is something beautifully tragic about how Portman plays Celeste. The girl who lived, turned a tragedy into an opportunity, and for decades found success. Heck, she even found a way to not necessarily be a cog in the machine but the mechanic who keeps it running. Yet, there is this pressure. The kind which requires drugs to help her control her moods, fits of rage and crying spells as she realizes, despite what she says to fans, or her daughter, she has no control. This is on top of never knowing what to really say and do and feeling this gift has isolated her from everything and everyone she loved.
The way Portman drives these feelings makes it so you can’t help but think of history’s tragic figures and feel like she is channeling their spirit. Asking them to work through her and with Corbet’s writing, help her have the moments they had privately, but letting the public in on what went on. Thus allowing them some ability to understand instead of just seeing the headline, hear the late night comic joke, and never taking note of the broken person. The one who feels like they get jabbed, hooked, and uppercut, day after day, moment after moment, and yet should still have a spotless body and smile. Something that, with age, doesn’t become easier at all nor what you are used to. It simply is something that presents a death by a thousand cuts.
Considering the journey we go on from Celeste’s childhood to what is being seen as her comeback album, the ending feels weird. You get it is a big moment for Celeste but it feels anti-climatic. Especially since there is this idea that something bad is always looming over Celeste. So considering what we get before the credits roll, it just leaves you thinking “That’s it?”
On The Fence
Something I’ve learned over the years is when a person’s name is touted heavily, to give credence of some kind, that is a red flag. Take Peter Jackson’s name being splashed all over Mortal Engines, despite the fact he was one of three writers and didn’t direct it. To me, Sia’s name being dropped about the music gives the same vibe.
But, like with Peter Jackson, you have to respect the artistry of Sia – especially taking note of past work. Liking her new music though? That is a whole separate thing. Now, personally, I’m unfortunately one of those fans who loved her work when she was probably at her lowest. So hearing the music made for this movie, while I recognize the beat is catchy, there wasn’t that oomph in the words. It’s like Sia had some tracks she didn’t want directly attached to her, couldn’t sell, and so they were retooled for this movie. With the disclaimer of Celeste not being the best writer or singer, and dialing it in a bit, to lessen your expectations or standards a little bit.
Overall: Mixed (Divisive) | Purchase, Rent, Get Tickets, or Merchandise On (Fandango/ Amazon)
The main issue with Vox Lux is the ending. It builds Celeste beautifully, makes her tragic, complex, and Portman really gives it her all. However, then it ends in such a way that makes you question if the credits are rolling early. After all, they roll once at the beginning of the film, are they rolling up in the middle and then officially one more when this truly ends? Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. The film ends in such a way it is like it trails out and it forces you to realize this is one of those, “And life goes on…” type of films.
Hence the mixed label. While the performances are good, and music value is based on taste, the thing which could have made or broken the film, the ending, gave it a serious fracture. One which isn’t so terrible this should be skipped but will leave you a bit disappointed.
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