Vox Lux

Critics Consensus

Intriguing albeit flawed, Vox Lux probes the allures and pitfalls of modern celebrity with intelligence, visual style, and an assured Natalie Portman performance.



Total Count: 232


Audience Score

User Ratings: 936
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Movie Info

VOX LUX, A 21st Century Portrait, begins in 1999 when teenage Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) survives a violent tragedy. After singing at a memorial service, Celeste transforms into a burgeoning pop star with the help of her songwriter sister (Stacy Martin) and talent manager (Jude Law). Celeste's meteoric rise to fame dovetails with a personal and national loss of innocence, consequently elevating the young powerhouse to a new kind of celebrity: American icon, secular deity, global superstar. By 2017, adult Celeste (Natalie Portman) is mounting a comeback after a scandalous incident almost derailed her career. Touring in support of her sixth album, a compendium of sci-fi anthems entitled, "Vox Lux," the indomitable, foul-mouthed pop savior must overcome her personal and familial struggles to navigate motherhood, madness and monolithic fame.


Natalie Portman
as Adult Celeste
Jude Law
as The Manager
Raffey Cassidy
as Albertine, Young Celeste
Stacy Martin
as Eleanor
Jennifer Ehle
as Josie, the Publicist

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Critic Reviews for Vox Lux

All Critics (232) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (141) | Rotten (91)

Audience Reviews for Vox Lux

  • Mar 06, 2019
    Lots of vague ideas about "culture" are raised but by the midway point it becomes clear that the movie has little to say about anything. Its just a beautifully photographed vanity project.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 25, 2018
    I don't know what this movie was trying to say about anything. Vox Lux stars Natalie Portman as the adult Celeste, a survivor of a school shooting as a teen who became an international pop star in the months after. Is there something writer/director Brady Corbet wants to say about the transformation of tragedy into mass entertainment? The dulling effect of an entertainment industry to grind up human beings and re-purpose them into shiny, inauthentic, easily marketable figurines? I don't know. I warily thought as we open on an upsetting school shooting, "I don't know if the final product will justify this tone," and it doesn't. There are decisions that feel like they should mean something, like having the same actress, Raffey Cassidy (Tomorrowland), play both young Celeste and her eventual teen daughter, but what? It feels like an idea looking to attach to an interpretative message. Then there's a modern terrorist group dressing like one of Celeste's iconic music videos. She distances herself from the violence and even publicly challenges the perpetrators. This will obviously come back and mean something, drawing upon her own beginning stages of fame derived from the bloodshed of others, right? Or during her big concert the terrorists will invade and attack her, bringing the main character face-to-face with the ramifications of hubris. None of these things happen. Instead, Portman enters the scene at the 45-minute mark and proceeds to lash out at others, lament her parenting deficiencies, gets drunk, and then puts on her show. That's it. It's like Vox Lux forgot to be a movie for the final 20 minutes and just becomes a numbing series of EDM pop dance numbers. Portman is actually very good and digging deep into her anxious, entitled, and spiraling pop star, rounding out her dimmed humanity when Corbet cannot. There's a solid storyline here between the adult Celeste trying to reconnect with her teen daughter who she's been neglecting. This isn't it. The pretension level of the pedantic exercise made me think of Lars von Trier as filmed by Darren Aronofsky. Skip it. Nate's Grade: C-
    Nate Z Super Reviewer
  • Dec 24, 2018
    Vox Lux director Brady Corbet, at the age of 30, has worked with the likes of directors such as Michael Haneke, Lars Von Trier, Ruben Östlund, and Noah Baumbach, so it comes as no surprise that the actor, writer, and filmmaker's second directorial effort is a divisive meditation on pop culture, how news-worthy tragedies spawn faces of such that then carry the weight of the audience's projections, and how the masses expect these public figures to help us heal from such tragedies without having the privacy or benefit of the doubt to handle whatever they're going through in regards to whatever they're expected to help everyone else cope with. In other words, as simple as the presentation is in Vox Lux, this is an intensely dense picture that has so many ideas floating around in its head it can't even keep track of everything it starts a conversation about. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it certainly allows for some disconnect and confusion walking away from the film. It seems the film's intent is not to be about a single thing or single aspect of one thing, but it's also not clear which of these many things it's discussing should be the loudest. Never have I felt more bewildered by a movie after watching it. Part of me was fascinated by what I saw unfold as the life of this young woman played out in two halves and three complete acts while the other half of me wanted to completely reject-in a sense-what this woman became or rather, what the world turned her into. Two minutes in-as the opening credits rolled-I was already positive I was going to love this thing for all it stood for and was going to say and as it continued to develop through Raffey Cassidy's star-turning performance as both the young Celeste as well as the daughter of Natalie Portman's older Celeste, it only seemed more and more clear how groundbreaking this thing was; Corbet essentially melding the ideas of news and entertainment and begging (literally begging) his audience to remember there is a difference. As the film enters its second half though, taking place seventeen years after the first half, where we see Portman take over the main character and follow her through a day in the life it quickly became evident I kind of hated who this young, unassuming girl had become. She was now a woman, but acted more like a child than ever before. So coddled to the point her behavior was as tragic as it was laughable. Further, the final fifteen to twenty minutes of the film see Portman fully becoming this pop star and it's an odd mix of "what's the big deal?" and "look at the production she's apparently worthy of." Is Celeste especially good? No. Is she insanely famous because she was a product of a moment and has used that moment to her advantage ever since? Kind of. There is something of a twist in regards to these ideas that is a genuinely great idea, but needed to have more of a throughline or at least a fair amount more exploration to allow audiences to grasp this somewhat shocking perspective that comes to be the side of the prism Corbet sees his film through. All of that said, it must say something for a film to be so internally divisive so as to not even be fully assured of where you ultimately land in overall opinion of the film days after seeing it. I still don't know if I liked Vox Lux or not, but I know I'm still thinking about it and I know "Wrapped Up" continues to give me chills every time I listen to it-which has been damn near constantly since I walked out of the theater. I need to see this again. Immediately.
    Philip P Super Reviewer
  • Dec 03, 2018
    WHITE ELEPHANT - My Review of VOX LUX (1/2 Star) What a steaming piece of garbage. I almost want to leave it at that, but I consider it good therapy to work out what the hell I just saw. All I know is that it's truly terrible. Brady Corbet, an actor whose performances in MYSTERIOUS SKIN and FUNNY GAMES I've admired greatly, wrote and directed this mess, its overall intentions perhaps well-meaning but muddier than the water underneath the Santa Monica Pier. Even my attempt at a synopsis sounds batshit crazy. A young girl named Celeste experiences severe trauma which leads to her worldwide success as a terrible, whiny, narcissistic music sensation. Is it a commentary on terrorism or is it merely the second film this year (with A STAR IS BORN being first) to attack Lady Gaga's brand of dance pop? I suppose it's both, clearly biting off more than it can chew, but even though Portman doesn't appear until about halfway through the film, she's horribly miscast and unbearable from the word "go". I've loved many of her performances over the years, but her Long Island honk, coupled with her shouty, snotty line delivery here had me wincing throughout. Things start out promisingly enough, although humorlessly in an Atom Egoyan circa THE SWEET HEREAFTER sorta way, when young Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) finds herself dead center in a Columbine-style school shooting. The guilt she feels in the aftermath fuels the rest of the film. Had the character not become a famous star, but had simply stuck with her as a teen, I might have enjoyed this more. It plays like a quieter, simpler version of Gus Van Sant's ELEPHANT, and like my review title, it's a gift that nobody would want. Corbet wants to tie this together with the damaged goods many famous people turn out to be, and as such, it feels a little tasteless. Isn't it enough that, to quote Roxie Hart in CHICAGO, "none of us got enough love in our childhoods"? Corbet wants to make a statement about pop culture, but the result just feels endless and super annoying. Young Celeste sings an original song at a funeral and the footage of it goes viral and turns her into an instant star. Jude Law signs on as her manager, offering up sage yet dour advice as he watches his young charge turn into a glittering monster. Sia, also listed as a producer on the film, wrote the songs Celeste performs, and while melodic and cool, lose all of their power when sung by whatever is coming out of Portman or her singing stand-in's mouth. It's soft, whiny, and unbearable. And I LOVE pop music! I still applaud Corbet's ambition, but it lacks discipline. It smacks of a filmmaker with something to say and the desire to say it all in one movie. He genuinely knows how to create suspense, as evidenced in the first act, but he takes it to a place where we're subjected to a rich person complaining about getting their picture taken, and that's no fun under any circumstances. Same goes for this film, which I cannot wait to forget.
    Glenn G Super Reviewer

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