VIFF 2018 - Vox Lux
Former actor turned writer-director Brady Corbet helms the tale of a female singer-songwriter who goes from tragedy to...?
Corbet makes some interesting decisions with his story. First he uses prolific character actor Willem Dafoe as an omniscient narrator peppering the film with details. The story starts when a teenage girl (Raffey Cassidy--you might remember her from last year's The Killing of a Sacred Deer ) turns horrific tragedy into a song which then leads her to the edge of pop stardom. After a fateful meeting with a punk rock frontman, the film shifts to 2017 where we pick up with our protagonist 15 years later (now played by Academy Award winning Natalie Portman). This sudden shift is startling because anyone who has seen the movie poster has been waiting for Portman to show up for half the movie and Portman's character suddenly has a thick Staton Island accent the character didn't have as a teen. Furthermore, the actress who played the teenage aspiring popstar also plays the daughter of the now adult Portman's character. So all these sudden changes halfway through the film take some getting used to.
It's easy to see why Portman took this role--and produced the film. Portman gets to play a brash, troubled and complicated rockstar. It's a role that we've seen many male actors excel in and Portman does a great creating such a rich character from such tragic and innocent origins. We only spend a rushed day with Portman's character and she needs to believably draw lines from the character's past to her turbulent present day.
When I was leaving the theatre everyone had questions--and this is why you come to VIFF. Many fans of Portman's recent awards season work like Jackie weren't quite sure what to make of this film. Other VIFF regulars were on their way to have a conversation on the filmmaker's intended statement. I'd love to hear what you thought about the film's ending!