“There are great movies every year, but every so often there’s a movie that’s not only great but new, that advances the form a little, that pushes movies to a different place. Such movies get remembered as the thing that happened in cinema that year. The thing that happened in 2018 is VOX LUX.” —Mick LaSalle, SF Chronicle.
“Brady Corbet’s knockout of a second feature damn near explodes off the screen. Yes, a movie about the traumatic childhood that formed a formidable pop diva might be too much for some people. But this actor-turned-director doesn’t use VOX LUX to show off … though there is admittedly a little of that. And you should prepared to be wowed by Natalie Portman, who delivers a take-no-prisoners performance as Celeste, a swaggering rock diva who tends to burn down everything in her path, especially when she’s crossed. Often on the verge of a nuclear meltdown, fueled by alcohol and drugs, Celeste never leans on anyone; she’s all she needs, with any leftover glimmers of vulnerability banished from her brand. Hair slicked back, her face slathered in glitter to hide the creeping darkness, this singer-songwriter is a tiny time-bomb of talent and ruthless need. You speculate about how this fame monster lost her innocence — how her star ever got born. Which is why VOX LUX begins with our antiheroine’s wonder years… Out of the blue, she finds herself badly injured during a Columbine-like school shooting, a tragic common-occurrence staple of the new century. The incident inspires her to write a musical lament — and the song, cowritten with her older sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin), surprisingly catapults her into the celebrity sphere virtually overnight. Suddenly, Celeste is being commodified by a manager (Jude Law, sleaze personified) and sold to the highest bidder. From L.A. video shoots to recording studios in Stockholm, the teenager is shoved into a world for which nothing has prepared her, especially a pregnancy that results from a one-night stand with an older Brit rocker. Corbet and the gifted cinematographer Lol Crawley bring tremendous energy and momentum to the scenes of a young woman’s rise in a broken pop universe — she’s Madonna, Britney and Katy rolled into one confused pop princess” —Peter Travers, Rolling Stone. R. 110 Min.