Vox Lux

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Actress Raffey Cassidy played Colin Farrell’s daughter in The Killing of a Sacred Deer. She’s his daughter in real life, and in this, she plays Celeste Montgomery. She and sister Eleanor (Stacy Martin) survive a school shooting. They write a song about the tragedy, and instead of it merely being a cathartic experience, it launches a successful career in the music business. They get a manager (Jude Law), and the sky’s the limit. The second half of the movie is set in current times with Celeste played by Natalie Portman. it’s bizarre to say this but…at that point the movie stops being interesting and just becomes an uneven, boring mess of a film. It tries to tackle too many things, and it does them rather poorly.

We watch as Celeste has become a narcissistic jerk. We watch as the paparazzi hounds her; both in ways that don’t seem believable, especially in a day and age where we see a lot of this stuff on shows like TMZ. One example is how 50 different journalists (I use that term loosely) are all waiting for her and her daughter outside a diner. Celeste gives them a generic quote, mouths off to them, and they walk off, with cameras snapping photos. Uh…if that many would wait for her outside a concert venue or diner, wouldn’t they also chase her down the street peppering her with questions? Perhaps this would’ve all played better 20 years ago, but not now.

One of the things the movie does that I’ve always wanted a film to do — when the character grows up and is played by a different actor (in this case, played by Portman), they use the same actress to play her daughter. Makes sense, as your child would look like you. The problem with how they did it here is…she looks EXACTLY like she did in the first half of the movie. They should’ve made an effort to make her look slightly different, as it was distracting (as distracting as it was when Paul Dano played his twin brother in There Will Be Blood).

There’s something about the way Portman plays a diva rebel, with a New York accent, that just didn’t work. Especially when it also started to go for a few laughs. Portman’s two acts of the film just don’t play well after the seriousness of the first act. Although, her New York accent is better to listen to than her singing voice. She’s no Bradley Cooper.

A lot of these characters I feel we’ve seen before — the snotty rock star…the pushy manager that cares more about making money than the mental health of the talent.

Director Brady Corbet needed to reign it all in a bit. It made me realize how much better Portman was when she played a dancer being pushed too hard in Black Swan.

The narration by Willem Defoe was mildly intriguing. At first.

I can only give this 1 star.

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