Vox Lux Review - A Hypnotic, Gripping, Mesmerizing Film

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Vox Lux, from Focus Features, brings to the screen a powerful statement, an politically charged indictment that symbolizes the seismic metamorphosis’ society continues to experience and those who are left to pick up the pieces.

Directed and written by Brady Corbet Vox Lux stars Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Willem Defoe, Christopher Abbot, Maria Dizzia, Natasha Romanova, Daniel London, Matt Servitto, Candace Smith, Leslie Silva and Meg Gibson.

The film begins in documentary style with Willem Defoe as the narrator. We enter the world of superstar Celeste, played by Raffey Cassidy and Natalie Portman. Her humble beginnings can be seen in a Christmas morning video where she and her sister Eleanor played by Stacy Martin, have opened the presents and are now the stars of the home movies.

The film fast forward to Celeste returning from Christmas break as an eighth grade music student at a Staten Island High school. She and her teacher, Ms. Dwyer, played by Maria Dizzia, talk about her haircut, how attractive she looks, the need for change.


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It’s 1999. A boy enters the room. He states his name. Ms. Dwyer the first adult to encounter him is killed. Celeste, played here by Raffey Cassidy, is in shock and unable to move. The shooter calls her by name and orders her to move to the back of the room. Attempting to save her fellow students, she is shot within seconds SWAT enters the school.

It is too late.

For the single survivor Celeste begins the road to physical recovery. We meet her family sister Eleanor, played by Stacy Martin, her mom, played by Meg Gibson, and dad, played by Matt Servitto, at the hospital.

Eleanor becomes the guardian defacto. From this point forward she watches out over Celeste, sooths her when she is unable to cope, tolerates her outbursts, a penance for not being present to protect her at the shooting.

When asked to speak at a vigil, Celeste and Eleanor write and preform a song. Our narrator cuts in at this time, and he explains the song becomes an anthem for a hurting nation, and Celeste is invited to submit a demo track for possible representation.


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Her parents hire a manager, played by Jude Law, and we also meet Josie, the publicist, played by Jennifer Ehle, who explains the upcoming possibilities for appearances . . . if all goes well in the testing phase, she adds.

It does.

As the film from the first two acts into he present we see the Celeste now played by Natalie Portman, a global superstar, with entourage, paparazzi, and of course her every whim indulged, her anguish; sedated, and her extravagances supported.

As our narrator explains her survival created a life she never dreamed possible and now, for some unknown phenomenon, mass shooting has become defined and part of American vernacular and culture. It is as if somewhere someone crossed the wires and while the lights are still on the thinking has shorted out.

Vox Lux is mesmerizing from the moment the final screen credits roll in the beginning of the film to the neon, techno-pop, electric light show ending.

Natalie Portman gives another career defining performance. She is a perfect mess, emotionally and physically unstable, her outbursts chilling, vicious and mean and immediately loving.

Raffey Cassidy presents a strong foundation delivering a perfect performance as the younger Celeste. She is a show stealer and has double duty playing both the younger Celeste and the daughter of Celeste, Albertine. Stacy Martin’s performance from guardian to prisoner is so clear, strong and real.


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Jude Law was also very impressive. It wasn’t just the ladies show, he delivers on the role of dedicated manager and there just something different, intangible, that jumps from the screen.

As someone who has been on the waiting side of delayed press days, the aspects of the media day were played very well, and authentically.

Brady Corbet, as both director and writer, keeps the time line always presents. Major catastrophic events that shaped society are spoken in brief ambiguous moments, and the audience immediately knowns the exact date.

Vox Lux is highly political and some could see as a landmine capitalizing on a very violent aspect of society. And others will see a political indictment, without assessing blame or demanding answers to the unanswerable.

Most people will miss the gestation period of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which is understated, and presented well in the film and doesn’t manifest immediately following the shooting. It isn’t until arm chair web MD’s would believe that time of mental incapacitations should be over that she is unable to cope.


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Vox Lux is a gripping, riveting hypnotic film with shocking, captivating performances. Politically charged the film is symbolizes the seismic metamorphosis society continues to experience.

Vox Lux opens December 7, 2018 in select markets. See this film.

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