Saturday, September 8, 2018


When I first heard Brady Corbet was making another film I got excited due to the pedigree of filmmakers he’s been working with/alongside these last few years (Michael Haneke, Lars Von Trier, Bertrand Bonello, Antonio Campos, etc). It’s not that I thought he would mimic the aforementioned names, but perhaps something positive would rub off on him as a director (lots of filmmakers from Claire Denis to Jim Jarmusch have all drawn influence from the older filmmakers they worked with/under before becoming directors themselves).
Also, full disclosure, I met Brady Corbet at the now closed Kim’s video once, and based on the selection of DVD’s he had in his hand, it’s safe to assume that he loves all kinds of movies. This appreciation for all genres shows in Vox Lux - the story of a teen girl (“Celeste”) who becomes an overnight pop star after surviving a school shooting. See what I mean? Doesn’t that sound like two movies crammed in to one? Vox Lux is about pop music and the aftermath of a school massacre. Corbet crams quite a bit of content in to a movie that’s just over 90 minutes without anything feeling forced or rushed. Everything flows quite natural.
What’s also great is that the “big names”/established actors featured in Vox Lux aren’t treated like mega-stars with non-stop screen time. Jude Law’s presence is secondary, we don’t see Natalie
Portman until the 2nd half (as the older/hardened Celeste), and Willem Dafoe’s contribution was (wonderful) voice-over narration only (Willem Dafoe’s narration is reminiscent of the kind of voice-over one might find in a recent Lars Von Trier movie).

Given Brady Corbet’s casting of Natalie Portman in a film that’s partially about the pressure of performing, I was subconsciously reminded of Black Swan from time to time..
Black Swan / Vox Lox

But beyond some visual similarities, Vox Lux is nothing like Black Swan

Brady Corbet made a time capsule with his latest feature. The film is bookmarked by significant events that I remember from my teenage years/early 20’s ranging from the 9/11 attacks & the columbine-esque school shooting I mentioned earlier, to the Brittany Spears/Mandy Moore-style pop music that Celeste sings. The first half of Vox Lux is set in the late-90’s (I was born in late 1981 so I remember all the pop music that’s referenced). It’s crazy to think of a movie that features big music studio sessions & record labels as a thing of the past. Record labels and big studios are still a thing in 2018 to a select few but not like in the 90’s. You can easily make a home studio and upload your work to YouTube and/or SoundCloud and become a star without a record label now. Labels & studios are becoming a thing of a the past.

It’s funny that I decided to watch this over A Star Is Born as my kick-off movie here at the 2018 Toronto film festival as both movies deal with overnight success, reluctant stardom & the music industry.

Vox Lux is both chaotic and beautiful. It's not for everyone but the audience Corbet had in mind should appreciate it. Imagine if Olivier Assayas made a sequel/follow-up movie about Sarah Polley’s character in The Sweet Hereafter.


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