Now that I have seen Vox Lux, Brady Corbet's fatalistic rumination on the pop circus that is modern living starring Natalie Portman as a vulgar train-wreck in sparkly spandex, I... I don't get what's got the other critics so upset? Full disclosure: I'm waiting until after I write this review to go read their reviews proper, so I don't too pollute my own perspective. But without trying I have been aware ever since the film premiered that it's been divisive, to put it mildly, and now that I have seen the film I can't really wrap my head around what it is that's got people angry.
Brady Corbet might not like me saying that - it's not hard to imagine that he enjoys the "provocateur" label - but Vox Lux went down easy as a wine cooler on a hot wet afternoon for me, and knowing its rep going into it I really expected more, well, provoking. (I mean I did just watch Lars von Trier's latest a week ago.) As is I think Vox Lux ties together our culture of violence with our culture of surface pleasures in a smart, sharp, and memorable fashion, with shifting notions of identity, presentation, baked right into the spackle-painted pretty girl face of it.
It oohs and ahhs via murky compositions busted up by neon interruptions, bursts of stage flame, a flick of Natalie Portman's glittery fingernails. There's the occasional Fassbenderian flourish I dug. The Uzi of Damocles hovers over its every Chatty Cathy moment - paparazzi flashbulbs burst with ultraviolence against the dull tin casing of a movie-set city diner. It announces itself god here, a sci-fi something or other, and then just drones on and on, just like our culture do. It's a weird and aggressive little pop art tart, this Vox Lux, and I liked it well enough. Have I got a bullet lodged in my spine because of it? I wouldn't say that much. I'm not bleeding on the beach or anything. I am curious what got everybody's panties so tangled though. My panties are fine, thank you very much.