05th Mar2019

Glasgow Film Festival 2019: ‘Vox Lux’ Review

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Raffey Cassidy, Christopher Abbott, Logan Riley Bruner, Maria Dizzia, Meg Gibson, Daniel London | Written and Directed by Brady Corbet

vox-lux-poster

Vox Lux, directed by Brady Corbet, stars Natalie Portman, Raffey Cassidy and Jude Law in a spiralling meteoric rise of a tragic musician that plays second fiddle to devastating story of innocence lost. Vox Lux is a vastly condensed and emotionally compacted feature swirling from nuanced social commentary to a barrage of unnerving foreboding in the perils of an eerie and unflinching exploration of crucible devolving societal manifestation.

There is so much to unpack here and much to unravel and explore in Corbet’s breakout feature. It is quite frankly daunting to fully comprehend. The layers and depth on offer here are plumptious and outright frantic. The screenplay by Brady Corbet rhymes with unflinching reason and even if your enjoyment is surface level the film suffices as an alluring drama for audiences. The narrative, and ultimately the staunch social commentary, melds well for the overall impact if not on too often occasionally hit-and-miss in impact or relevance. Completely ignored and played down the one minute, with hollow emphasis or the instigation for a compelling feature the next. Undeniably extreme from the onset from the truly terrifying and powerful emotionally annihilating opening prologue to the splendid albeit tectonic epilogue clashing with what will be severe for some with antithetical threads that don’t resonate and feel unfilled. However, it is comprehensible and clear of what Corbet’s attempt is to covey even if it is scrambled in a swarm of human evolutional depiction.

The performances, much like the screenplay itself, struggle to unravel and highlight its greater strengths out of its drowning weaknesses of a bloated narrative. Natalie Portman impresses in what is essentially an extensive cameo of sorts. A performance that undeniably steals the show with emotional gravitas and a weighted intensity that will floor its audience. It’s a role in fact that if utilised as a primary basis throughout was sure to fire her in the predicament of an Academy Award nomination.

It is Killing of a Sacred Deer breakout star Raffey Cassidy who carries the picture in a dual stealing role. A two-fold performance that conveys the antithesis of celebrity idealistic fathoming. Incredibly rich in sensitive scope Cassidy is ever so convincing in the layers the character inhabits. Supporting players Jude Law and Stacy Martin are sadly underutilised and severely underdeveloped to a staggering degree, especially considering how integral Martin, in particular, is to the emotional crux of the plot. Law’s character is severely redundant to the narrative here. It takes up far too much screen time and sequential depth that could be evolved in other areas of production. Martin is left with little to nothing to do and even when her pivotal sequences occur the screenplay can only excuse a brace of four words or less. Ultimately dampening the fire and fury both her character Ellie and sister Celeste depend on to engage with the intended impact sadly faultering.

Corbet’s film is however superbly scored by composer Scott Walker with a frantic, vivid and invigorating score that electrifies in an eerie unsettling conviction. The cinematography by cinematographer Lol Crawler is outrageously glorious to behold. The impact it leaves is delightfully instinctive and outlandishly evocative with superb craft to showcase severe laments of emotional resonation.

Vox Lux screened at the Glasgow Film Festival on March 2nd 2019.

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