You can fault writer-director Brady Corbet’s stylish, sharp, eccentric Vox Lux all you like, but you sure can’t fault it for its lofty ambitions. In a narrative that could be called "A Star Is Born in Upside Down land," Natalie Portman blisters in an out-there performance as a self-destructive druggy, boozy pop singer. She may either have you cheering or send you up the wall, but she’s bold and unforgettable in a movie with lots on mind.
Celeste’s life becomes a whirlwind of jet-hopping, stoking the star-maker machinery and losing her virginity to a comically melancholy Brit rocker, whom she tells, drolly, that he makes the “sort of music the boy who attacked me used to listen to.” From there, the pacey, energetically shot Faustian narrative (featuring many wry, bone-dry voiceovers by Willem Dafoe) leapfrogs to 2017 when the new rock tour planned by Celeste (now played by Portman) is an attempt to salvage her career after a Demi Lovato/Britney Spears-ish flameout.
Vox Lux doesn’t bother to answer any of the questions, just tosses them at us like Molotov cocktails. No matter. The sometimes opaque, distant Portman is all in, swinging way past the fences. In scene after scene tearing back the curtain on the nightmare of pop stardom, Portman’s robotic/militaristic expressions, broad Long Island accent and bizarre gestures are electrifying. Post-modern fame never looked so bleak or horrifying.
Vox Lux doesn’t bother to answer any of the questions, just tosses them at us like Molotov cocktails. No matter.
- Natalie Portman commands attention in the go-for-broke film you won't soon forget
- Not everything hits the mark or quite delivers a message, but don't you dare call it timid