Pop-star psychodrama Vox Lux is strangely memorableby Russell Baillie
But it’s not all about her. After an introductory sardonic voice-over by Willem Dafoe, whose regular narrations are like a “Faustian theme” warning light, we meet the teenage Celeste (played neatly by Raffey Cassidy) as a tragedy puts her and her song-writing sister on the news. That leads her to a manager (Jude Law), recording studios, dance lessons, a breakthrough and a life that will never be the same.
But director Brady Corbet’s second feature doesn’t follow the A Star Is Born playbook. After all, he’s attempting to dissect 21st-century celebrity by suggesting it has analogues to terrorism, which, despite some harrowing scenes, is unconvincing in its ambitious hypothesis. Also, his dense screenplay runs out of drama too early and opts to end on a triumphant note that hasn’t been earned by the preceding craziness.
Still, for all the film’s unevenness and pretentiousness, Celeste, fame monster and celebrity nightmare, makes this backstage psychodrama – chalk up another one for Portman after Black Swan – strangely memorable.
IN CINEMAS NOW
This article was first published in the March 2, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
Eileen Merriman doesn’t have to dig too deep to find the angst, humour and drama for her award-winning novels.Read more
The tide of great New Zealand books on the world wars shows no sign of going out. Russell Baillie reviews four new Anzac books.Read more
A telegraph “boy”, heroic animals and even shell-shock make for engaging reads for children.Read more
Ensuring lighthouses stay “shipshape” isn’t a job for the faint-hearted.Read more
Service medals are being reunited with their rightful owners thanks to former major Ian Martyn and his determined research.Read more
A meeting aims to see world leaders and CEOs of tech companies agree to a pledge called the ‘Christchurch Call’.Read more
The fictionalised account of a British woman who spied for the Soviet Union is stiflingly quaint.Read more