xan’s review published on Letterboxd:
I think it’s right to warn people about the first few minutes of Vox Lux before anyone goes in without being aware of the triggers. So TW: it opens with an extremely graphic, active school shooting. I don’t want to say it was a “great” way to open up the film, but it did make me interested in what the rest of this film had in store. Frankly, the entire first act was stunning in showcasing Celeste’s transition from an innocent victim to a youthful wreck, which resonated with her into adulthood.
Willem Dafoe’s affective narration throughout made for amazing exposition. His voice, filled with grit and musk, did a great job in depicting Celeste’s harrowing environment, not visually, but audibly.
This film conveyed a commentary on the modern music industry and it’s downfall in substance through Celeste. Her voice was somewhat pure in the beginning as she sings at a church for her school’s vigil. It was authentic. We got to know her in a way that wasn’t too expository. Throughout the film, we see her becoming less generic adapting to the industry. She commits heinous acts, Willem narrates a majority of it, and in the final act, we see her in her ultimately destroyed final form.
My main problem with the film, however, was the underwhelming second half. Celeste was a great character to follow, but the film didn’t make it as impressive as it should’ve been. We get the gist of how she’s grown and how the industry damaged her psychologically. Despite receiving this, the film failed to make this exceptional concept memorable.