Director Brady Corbet teams up with Natalie Portman for Vox Lux, and the first full trailer teases both a character rebirth and a cinematic spectacle. The American director's previous project, the 2012 film The Childhood of a Leader, featured a small but impactful performance from Robert Pattinson, along with a shocking ending.
As an actor, Corbet has collaborated with numerous acclaimed international directors, most notably Michael Haneke (Funny Games, 2008), Lars von Trier (Melancholia, 2011), and Olivier Assayas (Clouds of Sils Maria, 2014). The collective aesthetics of such filmmakers clearly influenced Corbet’s aforementioned 2012 directorial debut, in which he examines the relationship dynamics that influence a boy’s world outlook, resulting in his rise to political power. After a positive critical reception to his debut, Corbet began writing Vox Lux’s screenplay, in which the victim of a school shooting grows up to be a pop star named Celeste. Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) was originally cast in the main role, and Portman ultimately replaced her last January.
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Today, NEON released Vox Lux’s full-length trailer, which begins with Portman’s aloof yet glamorous character smacking her lips while processing a journalist’s question. Whereas Portman’s character in Black Swan (2010) has a similar performance look, Celeste has a much different personality, evidenced by her thick accent and nonverbal behavior.
After announcing a “rebirth,” the trailer transitions to a shot from the original Vox Lux teaser trailer, in which Celeste prepares to perform for a stadium audience. While the clip's first half promotes the character’s performance bravado, the subsequent scenes offer insight into Celeste's relationship with the public, along with those in her inner circle. English co-stars Jude Law and Raffey Cassidy receive little screen time in the trailer, but it does suggest the supporting players have big “moments" in the film itself, complemented by Corbet’s stylized direction and the symmetrical cinematography of Lol Crawley (Black Mirror, The OA).
Written entirely by Corbet, Vox Lux’s dialogue also stands out in the trailer, with Portman receiving many succinct and memorable lines. Last month, after the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, early reviews and reactions were mostly positive and polarizing. Once NEON acquired Vox Lux for distribution, the Oscar buzz for Portman commenced, and - by the looks of the trailer - the lead actress seems to have plenty of big scenes that can be used to promote the film during awards season. Furthermore, Corbet’s willingness to take risks, based on his past work, implies that Vox Lux won’t get lost in the shuffle.
Then again, it takes a polished director and cast to pull off an unorthodox narrative. But we’ll just have to wait and see how general audiences react.
Vox Lux will be in theaters December 7.