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What is the price of success? This age-old question is one of the themes in this grandiose and portentous pop star fable starring Natalie Portman and Jude Law.

Written and directed by actor-turned-filmmaker Brady Corbet, whose debut The Childhood of a Leader was a sinister period nightmare awarded best director and best first feature at Venice in 2015, Vox Lux bears some resemblance to Bradley Cooper’s A Star is Born — although twice as ambitious.

Cooper, after all, was not trying to talk about modern-day terrorism and the death throes of Western consumerism — just the loneliness of life at the top.

Corbet’s film is altogether more far-reaching.

While Childhood of a Leader was about characters bearing witness to some of the most disastrous moments of the early 20th century, Vox Lux is the same idea applied to our own era.

It begins with a “Prologue” title card, accompanied by ominous strings and Willem Dafoe’s voice-over introducing the protagonist, who we see in pastel home-video footage as a girl performing in a lounge room with a Christmas tree.

This is Celeste, and you’re made to understand trouble awaits her.

Corbet propels us next into a high school massacre — with jarring edits and unflinching violence — after which 14-year-old Celeste ends up with a bullet in her spine.

It’s the kind of shocking opening — misanthropic and coolly distant — that reminds you of a 21st-century Lars Von Trier (Dafoe’s narration underscores the impression).

Two more title cards, sectioning the film with biblical self-importance, “Genesis” and “Regenesis”, further cement this comparison.

The doe-eyed, pale-skinned Raffey Cassidy (The Killing of a Sacred Deer) plays Celeste in the first act, set in the late 1990s. She’s a suburban girl with a beautiful voice who’s catapulted to fame after a song she writes about the shooting with her sister (Stacy Martin) becomes a national hit, channelling the nation’s grief.

Jude Law plays her manager, the best character in the film, transforming from a strictly-business chaperone in the first half to an altogether more blurry manager/confidante in the second.

As an adult Celeste is played by Portman, an otherworldly beauty whose glamour is offset by a bratty, almost Jersey Shore vulgarity. In this section Cassidy plays her disaffected teen daughter.

Told with the right psychological nuance, this has the makings of quite a film.

But it’s clear Corbet has more on his mind than Celeste’s personal woes alone, and he pivots the story on the 9/11 attacks, whose aftershocks ricochet through his protagonist’s life in obviously symbolic ways.

Celeste goes from a fresh-faced teenager who’s a lightning rod for national pain, to a woman with a resentful streak, widely regarded with suspicion by the once-adoring public.

It’s a strange meld of macro and micro storytelling, in which Corbet is interrogating the act of myth-making — and how the news cycle turns on its heroes — while also asking questions about how America changed in the wake of 9/11.

He throws a tabloid scandal and another terrorist attack into the mix. Suddenly, Celeste has a PR crisis on her hands.

“I used to be treated like I was a hero,” complains Portman, with a similar anguish to her psychologically imploding ballet dancer in Black Swan.

On the eve of her character’s comeback tour for her new album, events conspire to derail her.

If you’re not quite sure what the film is saying, rest assured there are song lyrics to tell you. “I’m a private girl in a public world,” Celeste sings during the movie’s dreadfully shot concert finale (apparently real-life pop star Sia wrote material for the soundtrack, so not sure how this clanger made it through).

It’s a pity Corbet couldn’t dramatise this story of trauma and fame’s double-edged sword with more subtlety.

Portman, who gets an executive producer credit along with Law, is not the most multifaceted performer, and her part has been written in a way that’s mostly reactive, with not a lot to signal what’s going on beneath the surface. Corbet pushes some of Celeste’s most interesting dramas off screen, to be recounted in Dafoe’s gravelly narration, and we are left to fill in the gaps in her relationships with her family, manager and fans.

What does play out on screen is an interesting but never remarkable backstage drama in which Celeste and her manager try to manage family rifts, grapple with the media, get high and stagger to the gig.

The film’s central reference to 9/11 — and Celeste’s role as a symbol of American victimhood and exceptionalism — remains frustratingly underdeveloped, and sometimes banal.

Corbet’s film lacks the poetry or breathing space to make his statement more eloquently (a far superior film about consumerism, terrorism and youth culture is Nocturama, on Netflix). By the time his heroine is belting out her third-rate songs in a sequined jumpsuit, you can’t help but wish you’d stayed home.

Vox Lux is in cinemas from February 21.

Source: ABC News

The official international trailer for Natalie’s upcoming film The Death and Life of John F. Donovan has been released. Check it out below.

Oscar winner Natalie Portman sits down on TODAY to talk about her new movie, “Vox Lux,” in which she stars as a troubled pop diva who survived a tragedy.

Director Brady Corbet‘s Vox Lux is like the warped, nasty sibling of A Star Is Born. The film starts, quite literally, with a bang, when teenager Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) is the sole survivor of a school shooting. Footage of Celeste singing at a memorial service sweeps the nation, blasting the young girl into the pop-star stratosphere thanks to Jude Law‘s savvy talent manager. Flash-forward a decade or two and Celeste—now played by Natalie Portman, going all out for this role—is a Gaga-esque superstar, but the years in-between have sharpened her naive edges into something much more tragic. Vox Lux has been pretty divisive among critics, but I really dug it; like Celeste herself, the film is a wicked piece of work, but you have to admire its ambition.

Before Vox Lux‘s debut, I sat down with Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy to discuss the film. Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about.

Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy:

  • Their thoughts while reading the script’s jarring opening for the first time.
  • How the film uses a lot of long takes where the camera is following the performers from behind.
  • Their perspective on the film’s line about pop music: “I don’t want people to have to think too much, I just want them to feel good.”
  • Why the film makes a point several times to show that Celeste has lost her hotel room key.
  • Balancing complex dance choreography with staying in character.
  • VOX LUX, A 20th 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.

    Featuring original songs by Sia, an original score by Scott Walker and a transcendent performance by Natalie Portman – VOX LUX personifies the cult of celebrity and pummels the zeitgeist, it’s an original story about the forces that shape us, as individuals and nations.”

    Source: Collider

    “Vox Lux” stars Natalie Portman and Jude Law take the WIRED Autocomplete Interview and answer the internet’s most searched questions about themselves. What languages can Natalie Portman speak? What was Jude Law’s first movie? Where did Natalie go to college? Jude and Natalie answer all these questions and more!

    Natalie Portman’s performance of “Wrapped Up” from the Vox Lux original motion picture soundtrack featuring original songs written by Sia is out now!

    Natalie Portman and Raffey Cassidy’s new film, Vox Lux, follows the rise of aspiring entertainer Celeste, from the ashes of a major national tragedy to pop superstardom. With the film in theaters today, we sat down with Portman and Cassidy about the film, and the demands of their performances.

    Source A.V. Club

    Natalie Portman’s “Vox Lux” dazzled critics at the Venice Film Festival and continues to draw crowds in Canada. At our Variety Studio presented by AT&T at the Toronto Film Festival, the actress joined co-star Jude Law and director Brady Corbet to discuss the darkness behind all the glitter and glam of “Vox Lux.”

    After the Venice and TIFF premieres, Portman claimed that this was the most political film she’s ever made. The actress explained this statement to Variety exclusively.

    “Brady’s writing was such an accurate portrait of our moment, like nothing I’ve seen,” she said. “Where it’s not any sort of political message, or anything like that, but it has such a, ‘This is the culture and the political situation that we’re living in where everything is for sale.’ And how much attention we pay something, whether it’s a pop star, or a terrorist attack, gives it its importance and gives it its value. How much you can sell it is what makes it important.”

    Her character, Celeste, discovers fame at the age of 13, shortly after her school is attacked by a rogue shooter. The atrocity, and the song it inspired her to sing, rockets the young girl to stardom. Portman herself understands the glare of the early Hollywood spotlight, having starred alongside Jean Reno in the 1994 movie “Leon: The Professional.”

    “It is a weird thing to have a public persona and a private persona so young,” Portman said. “Because you’re kind of aware of keeping those separate. And there’s a weird splitting of self, ‘This is what other people can know about me, this is what’s valuable for me to have just for myself,’ and that can be strange, but important to keep separate. Which, this character doesn’t really do.”

    Source: Variety

    Actress Natalie Portman opens up about her new film “Vox Lux”, sharing how she prepared to play the role of a pop superstar who overcame tragedy through music.

    Source: ET Canada

    Natalie Portman in Vox Lux

    Now playing – Natalie Portman in ‘Vox…

    Although Brady Corbet’s much anticipated “Vox Lux” seems to have gotten a lukewarm early reaction from the press at Venice Film Festival on Tuesday, the movie has gained significant traction on the Lido, by judging from how packed the morning screenings and press conference were. Meanwhile, the performance of Natalie Portman, who stars as a dysfunctional pop star who survived a school shooting as a teenager, has been applauded on social media.

    The Oscar-winning, Jerusalem-born actress, who has often been outspoken about current social and political issues, said she didn’t perceive “Vox Lux” as having a political message but instead viewed it as a “reflection of the world we live it.” “If anything, it’s a portrait of our society, and the intersection between pop culture and violence and the spectacle that we equate between these two,” said Portman.

    Portman said she was “interested in the psychology of what violence does to individuals (as she is) from a place (Israel) where people have encountered it for so long.”

    “Unfortunately, in the U.S. we also experience violence regularly with school shootings which are, as Brady said to me before, some kind of civil wars,” said the actress, adding that even “small acts of violence can create widespread psychological torment.”

    Meanwhile, the Oscar-winning actress admitted that “playing a pop star was a dream” for her and that she had been a “fan of Sia for a long time.”

    Portman then said she watched several documentaries about pop stars to prepare for the role but added, with a laugher, that she was “not inspired by a particular pop star.” Another key aspect of preparing for the part was the dancing which she nailed thanks to her husband, Benjamin Millepied, a high-profile ballet dancer and choreographer with whom she worked on “Black Swan.” “I did the dancing with my husband at home which was nice. It was very fun to work together again,” said Portman.

    Corbet explained that while he approached “Vox Lux” as a drama only, he had to face all the lentghy preparations of a music movie. “There was so much preparation that went into the soundrack, choreography and lip sync. It was nearly a year’s work to put the soundtrack out a year before we started shooting,” said the actor-turned-helmer who made his feature debut with “The Childhood of a Leader” in 2015.

    Besides Portman and Corbet, the presser for “Vox Lux” was attended by Stacy Martin and Raffay Cassidy. The movie is being represented in international markets by Sierra/Affinity, while Endeavor Content and CAA represent the US rights.