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TIFF 2018 Review: “Vox Lux” (2018) ★★★★★


How many movies out there will leave you hanging a year after the screen fades to black? It may happen for various reasons, good or bad, and there’s no question about it. But I am quite certain after watching “VOX LUX”, written and directed by Brady Corbet, it will force anyone to push out the limit in an analysis and come up with the best possible answer to define not only the entire movie as a whole, but as an open ending, which is quite closed and straightforward if you pay attention to it.

It starts with chapter one called “Genesys” in which we find Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) at a music class when her classmate enters and clarifies the name of the teacher. As soon as she gets the answer the teacher expected, he takes his rifle and guns her down. After that, he kills every single student in the class and many more in the same school. Celeste was one of the victims when the bullet flew through her spine in the neck area that left her with pain meds for a very long time. At the mass funeral, she performs a song dedicated to the fallen students that turns into a big hit across the country, if not the world. Celeste herself becomes instantly famous so much so that it will redefine her past, present and future, that is not quite welcoming.

It’s insane to just think about what “VOX LUX” has to offer. First, it’s filled with the absolutely breathtaking performances of Natalie Portman, Raffey Cassidy, Jennifer Ehle and Jude Law. But it’s the narrative that will spin every head around. The movie questions the tragedy, what we do with it, and turns it into a mirror reflection of the society where there’s always someone who will try make money from dead people. Who knows where Celeste would be if she had missed class that day, had called in sick or something else. But that day in school, that childish look, optimism in her eyes and expectation from the future that was certainly bright for her, becomes dark and darker.

Now thirty-one years old, Celeste (Natalie Portman) is a legendary pop star who does not have that great a voice. But because of her past of having survived the school shooting, the society closes its eyes on her lack of singing talent. But then, the same tragedy that occurred in the beginning reoccurs in a Croatian beach when four men enter the premises armed with guns and wearing the same mast Celeste would wear for her music clips and start shooting at people left and right, leaving fourteen dead.

To say more about “VOX LUX” means spoiling it for you, which is clearly not my intention. However, it’s thought-provoking narrative and incredible look into the dark side of the society makes me realize that any level of tragedy for one is always a joy for someone else. Celeste at some point, but in a different context, says “Never postpone the joy” when she was completely intoxicated before a big show, thanks to her manager, played by Jude Law.

In conclusion, there’s not much imagination involved with what happens to Celeste as a big pop star, compared to what happened to Amy Winehouse, Elvis Presley or Whitney Houston. The truth is that people need a show and they won’t understand it never stops for a second. Somewhere next door a mass shooting may occur, and yes it will leave them stunned, but only for a moment as in the next second a new hero will appear to provide more entertainment. And as for the brilliant and stunning performance delivered by Natalie Portman, it is clear evidence that there is no limitation existing for her when it comes to diving into the skin of the characters she portrays, which is why it’s even more upsetting seeing the downfall of Celeste through the eyes of Portman’s ethereal performance.


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