Vox Lux: Film Review

Natalie Portman knows how to give a good performance – she has the Best Actress Oscar to prove it after all – and she doesn’t disappoint in Vox Lux.

The film is told in two chapters – the first one, set in 1999, stars Raffey Cassidy as Celeste, a teenager who survives a high school shooting. At the memorial service, she performs an original song she created with her sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) and it becomes a huge hit, and before she knows it she has a manager, she’s working on an album and music videos and is a fully-fledged pop star. The second chapter fasts forward to 2017, where Celeste, now Portman, has been famous for years, is troubled and bitter, and gearing up to give a press conference ahead of her concert.

The best thing about Vox Lux is the performances – Portman is incredible and shows us a side we’ve never really seen on film before. Celeste has been deeply affected by the trauma of witnessing a shooting, pressures of fame and the impact of being a child star. Celeste acts all tough but she’s super vulnerable and covers this up by acting like a spoiled brat. She isn’t likeable but you can understand what’s happened to her.

It’s a stark change from the wide-eyed innocence of young Celeste. Cassidy caught my eye in Tomorrowland and Killing of a Sacred Deer and is just as good in this more adult role. She has another part – as Celeste’s daughter – and she inhabits a different character entirely, one who is mature beyond her years and fed up of putting up with her mum’s crap for so long. It was disconcerting to have Cassidy in both parts and it really took me out of the movie because I was trying to figure out how young and old Celeste were together. It still felt weird, even after I got it.

Jude Law provided strong support as her longtime manager, and it’s interesting to see how his relationship with her changes between the two time periods. Martin doesn’t get a ton to do as the supportive big sister and her part is meatier in the first half and barely there in the second (which is handy because she definitely doesn’t look old enough to be Portman’s older sister).

I enjoy films based in the music industry and this is no exception. I find the whole behind-the-scenes look fascinating and I enjoy watching fake music videos, for example, so naturally, I was loving life while watching Cassidy shoot one. At first, I was concerned that we weren’t going to see Portman perform, but that is saved to the finale – one extended concert scene – which I loved. The pop songs, written by Sia, are as generic and shallow as they come and Portman’s voice is quite weak but I enjoyed it all, mostly for her dancing, her outfits and the content of the songs.

Vox Lux doesn’t quite deliver on its premise and is told in an unconventional manner so it won’t float everyone’s boat but there’s a lot of moments to enjoy.

In selected cinemas from Friday 3rd May 

(Rating: 4/5)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: