Natalie Portman, Raffey Cassidy, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Stacy Martin
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…somehow manages to be simultaneously moving, cynical and facetious… a must-see.
The ‘Prelude’ – as it’s called onscreen – to this film is memorable and jarring, to put it mildly. It’s 1999, and fourteen-year-old Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) and her classmates have just assembled in their schoolroom for the first lesson of term when – SPOILER ALERT! – one of their number bursts in and proceeds to go on a shooting rampage. Celeste is shot, but survives, and goes on to write a song which catapults her to teen pop stardom.
The plot thickens considerably from there on in. We jump a few years from scene to scene, and over time Celeste (now played by Natalie Portman) has become a musical megastar of an immeasurably more flamboyant and ‘decadent’ variety. She’s also a mother, and her daughter Albertine is played by – as you may have guessed – Raffey Cassidy. There are further tumultuous events, violent and otherwise, but it would be best to reveal no more.
There are a couple of flaws in this movie: the (grand) finale is cheesy and predictable, and Celeste’s sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) hardly seems to age a day. But it seems almost churlish to mention them in view of the film’s many strengths: the naturalistic acting, especially the virtuoso performance by an almost unrecognisable Portman (who actually both looks and sounds more like Fran Drescher)… the glorious thunderous soundtrack by Scott Walker… the droll and literate script, with its often savagely witty dialogue… the plethora of ideas… the moments of heart-stopping drama… the striking visual images…
Vox Lux somehow manages to be simultaneously moving, cynical and facetious. It’s definitely a must-see.