Film Review: Vox Lux

Writer-director Brady Corbet’s Vox Lux is an enthralling picture. A compelling protagonist and good storytelling make for a most rewarding picture.

Caught up in a tragic situation, teenager Celeste is thrust into the public eye. Celeste has a meteoric rise to fame as a pop star, but this has an impact on her both as a teenager and as a woman…

Vox Lux functions as a fictional biopic, focusing on key periods in the life and career of protagonist Celeste. The film is divided into three chapters, each offering a fresh perspective on Celeste. Not a particularly enigmatic figure at first glance, nevertheless this is a rouse. Celeste is depicted with layers and depth; she is a striking protagonist. 

From the shock and horror of an early scene, Vox Lux is not shy in including the political in its narrative. This works well; the events (both real and fictional) work well to contextualise the world which makes Celeste a star. Brady Corbet’s film is rife with observation, coming from both narrator and protagonist. 

One of the main themes of the film is the nature of fame. Corbet broadly depicts a negative depiction, in both the way Celeste becomes a star, and the impact it has on her and those around her. The film has something very interesting to say, but lets viewers make their own interpretations. The final chapter puts an appealing spin on what has come before. The ending works well; subtlety here wins over a more forceful conclusion. 

The music of Celeste (written by Sia, who is also an executive producer), is pure disposable pop. It makes for a thought-provoking finale, as antithetical as that sounds. The performance makes audience question the place of this style of music, and the commodification of it. 

Performances are great throughout. Natalie Portman is completely convincing as the adult Celeste. Raffey Cassidy is also superb as child Celeste. Stacy Martin, Jude Law, and Jennifer Erle provide great support. Makeup and costumes are fantastic in the second half of the film. 

Vox Lux ruminates long after the credits roll. A compelling and satisfying picture. 

Film Review: Tomorrowland: A World Beyond

TOMORROWLAND: A WORLD BEYOND

Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is brimming with wonder. The film is reminiscent of a traditional adventure movie, and as such is a very entertaining journey.

When teen space aficionado Casey Newton gets a glimpse of a futuristic world, she is determined to learn more. She enlists the help of Frank Walker, a reluctant former boy genius, who has also visited the wondrous place…

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond is a triumph of spectacle. Director and co-writer Brad Bird delivers wonder in spades. Visually, the film is sumptuous with its fantasy depictions. Bird has effectively tapped into science fiction imagery to produce a world rich in futuristic spectacle.

With its flashback opening scenes, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond offers a stylised vision of the past. And as much as the film is about the future, there is a certain resonance with the past. Bird’s film has the feel of a classic adventure; it has a different tone to recent movies of this genre. As such, there is something traditional and wholesome about the film which harks back to family-suitable movies of the 1980s.

Tomorrowland: A World Beyond teases viewers with glimpses of a fantasy world, taking its time to give context and meaning to the science fiction elements depicted. The film deals with familiar dynamics of the genre, positing a central theme of hope versus despair. The good-technology bad-technology trope is also present in Tomorrowland: A World Beyond, although even the more insidious aspects bring elements of humour. With its focus on environmental issues, the film tackles a pertinent and commendable topic. However, towards the end especially, Bird’s film does come across as preachy, detracting slightly from the overall message.

Cinematography and art direction in Tomorrowland: A World Beyond are superb. Michael Giacchino’s score also works very well with the attractive visuals. George Clooney offers a decent performance, although both he and Britt Robertson are outshone by the delightful Raffey Cassidy.

A welcome addition to the sci-fi adventure genre, Tomorrowland: A World Beyond successfully marries spectacle with an engaging narrative. A family film which should please all parties.