Natalie Portman is back on stage, but this time she’s not performing plies and entrechats, but belting out pop anthems. Shown at the 75th Venice Film Festival, Vox Lux follows twenty years in the life of Celeste, a capricious American singer at the height of her success, from the early 1990s to now. By her side is her manager played by Jude Law and the actress Stacy Martin. Originally meant for Rooney Mara (Carol), the lead role ended up with Natalie Portman, who won an Oscar in 2011 for her star turn in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan.
This second full-length feature by American actor Brady Corbet deals more broadly with the inner workings and excesses of show business. Celeste is not immune to the pressure and the criticism of those around her. And it’s certainly not all sequins and sparkle, as the director also looks at violence with the film’s opening sequence depicting a massacre in an American class room.
A keen Francophile, Brady Corbet started out in 2003 in Thirteen, an independent drama that focused on teenage violence. This 30-something from Scottsdale (Arizona) was subsequently given a slew of supporting roles in Sils Maria (2014) by Olivier Assayas, Saint Laurent (2014) by Bertrand Bonello, Funny Games US by Mickael Haneke (2007), Melancholia by Lars Von Trier (2011) and Snow Therapy by Ruben Ostlund (2014). His first film as a director, The Childhood of a Leader was warmly received at the 2016 Venice Film Festival. Let’s hope it’s the same for this drama with a virtually unrecognisable Nathalie Portman.
Vox Lux, by Brady Corbet. With Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Raffey Cassidy and Stacy Martin.