If you liked Natalie Portman’s raps and “mommy moves” on Saturday Night Live, you’ll get a kick out of her as a glam rocker in an encrusted silver and black jumpsuit with neon accents, chrome nails and wild makeup singing original new songs by Sia.
But even with wicked dance move and surprisingly great, but thin pop-friendly vocals, Vox Lux is certainly a polarizing movie. It’s non-linear, split into three acts, and is part graphic school shooting (trigger warning FYI) movie, popstar documentary, and concert film. So, think Elephant or Polytechnique meets Country Strong meets Katy Perry’s Part of Me.
The role of Celeste is split in two. On one side, there’s Natalie, and on the other, Raffey Cassidy (The Killing of a Sacred Deer), who also plays adult Celeste’s daughter. Celeste is a young singer who survives a school shooting, only to become one of the most successful singers in the world, notorious for her hot temper, and a series of scandals, including a teen pregnancy. As she’s about to launch her sixth album, Vox Lux, a terrorist attack is committed, and perpetrators use her videos and music as the emblems of their cause. But with a new tour about to launch, Celeste’s show must go on. Right?
In Venice, Natalie called this the “most political” movie she's ever made.
And she might be right. It's definitely… different. In a way, Brady Corbet's film reminds me of the addiction dramedy slash monster movie Colossal, starring Anne Hathaway, which premiered at TIFF back in 2016. Except this movie has way more violence, and spot-on media satire.
Lainey and I covered the Toronto premiere of Vox Lux on Friday, and asked Natalie about all of the fusion.
“The collision of pop culture and violence and how everything is kind of for sale now, the news, violence, pop culture, private lives, everything is kind of a spectacle and the attention we give things gives them their importance.”
And then we followed up by asking about working with Sia and whether or not she borrowed anything from Natalie Raps… and she laughed, twice:
“(Laugh) Well of course, the two things share the same person, because I obviously did both, but this is obviously a different character. And the Sia songs were so inspiring, and when I heard them, I was so excited to get to work with her, she’s just the greatest songwriter and it was a very lucky thing to get to perform her songs."
Vox Lux is a sales title. And with so many elements, it'll be interesting to see how it's marketed, or who picks it up. It's bold filmmaking, done very well. And her performance is very memorable.
Any movie where the lead character writes a note that reads, “I’m sorry I’m a bitch, xo” is worth rolling the dice on. So, who will take the risk?