Vox Lux ★★★★½

Holy shit...
Nothing prepared me for THIS.
Leave all preconceived notions at the door, because Vox Lux is ready to tear them all to shreds. I guess I went in expecting a story that was much more sanitary and safe than what is actually being presented here. Absolutely BALLSY is the best term I can use to describe this film, as it pulls no punches in what it wants to show to the audience. Its commitment to such a dark subject matter is so commendable and audacious, something that has to be seen in its entirety to be believed. Try to go into this as blind as possible.

The shocking opening scene sets the stage for what's to come, showcasing a powerful study that points not only inward on the character of Celeste, played brilliantly by Natalie Portman, but also outward on her public perception and the events that surround it. The framing of this film is also very unique, separated by various acts all interspersed with narration by Willem Dafoe. It presents itself in such a serious way, almost treading the line between genius and self-indulgent. The battle between the two is always being fought but the film just really goes for it, creating a shocking and depraved story of trauma through the eyes of a pop star who's inception began through anguish. It's gripping, unrelenting, and powerful stuff. It's hard to discuss anything other than the content of the story, but the technical aspects are a shining star here. This film is gorgeous to look at through its neon and superfluous lens of violence, also managing to feel incredibly grounded and raw thanks to the performances. This is Natalie Portman at her best; her bright and eccentric pop performance outfits perfectly juxtaposed with the images of horror.

There's so much to unpack after watching Vox Lux. Whether you're taken back by the daring yet on-the-nose subtext, the powerful performances or subdued cinematography, I feel like most everyone can appreciate how daring this film really is...even if it doesn't stick the landing in everything it sets out to do. You're either on board with it or not, and it sticks with its ambitious guts no matter what. The lingering sting still hasn't left me. One of 2018's best.

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