Natalie Portman takes on her most exotic role since “Black Swan” as a pop diva mom in “Vox Lux.” She tries to maintain some sense of normalcy for her teenage daughter through scandals and an act of terrifying violence.
The film, directed by Brady Corbet and co-starring Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Stacy Martin and Jennifer Ehle, covers the arc of Celeste’s life from her teens until her early 30s.
The music drama begins in 1999 when a 13-year-old Celeste (Cassidy) and sister Eleanor (Martin) are witness to a “seismic, violent tragedy.” The sisters compose a song as a form of catharsis for the tragedy and it catches the attention of a music manager (Law), who help launches their career.
Portman takes over the Celeste character as a 31-year-old pop diva. Her own teenage daughter is also played by Cassidy. Rooney Mara was originally cast for the role, but Portman stepped in when she dropped out, maybe a good thing.
The film screened at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and the 43rd Toronto International Film Festival last month and the 29th New Orleans Film Festival last week, so critics have had time to weigh-in on it.
So far its drawing near unanimous acclaim. It’s sporting a 90 rating on rottentomatoes.com based on 39 reviews, all but four positive.
Most critics seem to get that the film is a commentary on toxic celebrity culture. Even the trade rags agree.
“A deliciously rich treatise on toxic fame and weapons of mass seduction,” writes Stephen Dalton in the Hollywood Reporter.
Guy Lodge of Variety says “‘Vox Lux’ paints a sharp, shellacked portrait of a ghost in the celebrity machine.”
You’ve got to dig down pretty far on the pecking order to find a negative review, but Alistair Ryder of The Digital Fix comes up with one.
“Just like his previous film, ‘The Childhood of a Leader,’ Corbet’s technical skill as a director is undermined by his inability to subtly convey his themes, or even make his characters sound like normal human beings in their most grounded moments.”
Editor’s Note: One of the highlights is the movie’s musical score by Australian singer Sia and Scott Walker.
The film will be released Dec 7. Check out the trailer below