jack’s review published on Letterboxd:
Still such a fascinating film; after another viewing, I still think “Vox Lux” is extremely remarkable and insanely executed: there hasn’t been a film made after this that feels so bleak and cynical about the 21st Century and I’d be surprised if something (or someone) came around and declared itself as being more cynical than this work. It’s such a tonally unpleasing work and that’s the point: Corbet isn’t here to make a film that eases the senses and relaxes the mind; this is a work that acts as a sensory overload – it’s an unpleasant movie and at time, an extremely messy one, but it’s all purposeful.
I was surprised with how much there is to this film on the second go and how much Corbet throws at this – not all of it sticks as well as others, but it’s extremely impressive how much Corbet includes in here and at varying points, how it all eventually comes full circle. This is a work that explores our country’s fascination with tragedy and trauma and how we’re so quick to capitalize on it or how were so quick to jump to stories like these; the moment when Celeste sings for the families of the children and teachers who died in the shooting is telling of this: the narrator remarks on her average ability in terms of singing and the only reason she’s become this sensation is because of her story, not because of her capable singing voice. And the fact that they auto-tune her only enhances this: the world loves a good story.
And I think that when Celeste reaches adulthood and sees how the world operates around her and how her success is mainly due to her trauma, it eats at her and torments her: she never got to cope because the world wouldn’t let her. So, now she’s forced to cope through temporary mechanisms: drugs, booze, sex. I love how cynical Celeste is because it makes perfect sense why she’d be this bitter and spiteful pop star: her whole “talent” is the fact that she survived a tragedy. And as much as the music is entertaining, I’d like to imagine that Corbet and SIA intentionally made it where it was interpreted on being bad. In all honesty, there’s not a lot of depth to the songs – it’s mindless and typical songs you’d hear on the radio nowadays – and when Celeste has her mental breakdown, it’s her realizing people see her for the story and not for the gift; they look at her differently, she says to her sister, they don’t think I’m human. Well, she’s right: she’s the girl who was born from the depths of Hell, the ashes of time, spawned from the Devil to keep her alive.
I wouldn't be surprised that on the third watch, I'd give this the five star treatment or absolutely hate it: it's such an enigma of a film, a wildcard portrait of unrelenting force.