In an ever more polarised world of conflicting ideologies, violence and terror, what is the role of entertainment and fame in shaping public opinion and beliefs?
In his second film as director, Brady Corbet presents us with a modern parable of fame, social upheaval and societal belonging that gets under the skin of its audience. Exploring pre and post 9/11 social themes through the eyes of an entertainment industry built on infant fame and emotional manipulation. Vox Lux is a rollercoaster of social, emotional and psychological critique.
Split into two acts bookended by a prologue and finale, Vox Lux is an multi-faceted journey into life of Celeste (Cassidy/Portman) who survives a high school shooting in 1999 only to be thrown into a world of instant fame following a memorial concert for her lost classmates. Narrated by Willem Dafoe, Vox Lux takes us through Celeste’s journey into fame and social idol status. Against a backdrop of a world where violence and terror mix with a cult of celebrity in a society searching for belonging and answers.
Vox Lux never attempts to provide all the answers to the large and complex questions it raises, opting to allow the audience to build their own meaning, opinions and ideas into the journey Celeste takes.
I don’t want people think, I just want them to feel good-Celeste
Portman gives a powerhouse performance as the older Celeste, alongside a truly stunning younger portrait of the character from Cassidy. Both showing the power and influence of an entertainment industry built on success at any cost, and the social manipulation of the world around them. We see Cassidy’s younger Celeste, damaged by her experiences, offered a way out of the pain, through a mirage of fame. Building a wall of defence through music and public image as she grows. This very wall of defence becoming the damaged, egotistical and theatrical woman Portman portrays. A woman who believes her own soundbites and can only function when loved by an audience.
Both performances provide a deep and uncomfortable truth of modern society. Where celebrities become lead voices in understanding violence and conflict, as politics and entertainment merge into muddy pool of soundbites and emotion. As Celeste says during her transition into pop star status “I don’t want people think, I just want them to feel good”.
Corbet’s Vox Lux is rich in style, contrast and sound, with cinematography that provides depth, starkness and beauty in equal measure. Alongside a soundscape that fully utilises the beautiful orchestral score of Scott Walker and pop prowess of Sia. Vox Lux is a sensory journey that is brash, compelling and addictive, yet full of nuance; mirroring its main character.
Vox Lux gets under your skin in way few films manage in modern cinema, with Corbet proving his place as a leading light in film direction. Vox Lux is a multi-faceted journey into our 21st Century world where instant gratification, fame and easy answers go hand in hand with highly complex social issues and ideologies.