From head to toe, Celeste’s visual story reflects the narrative of her career. She dons wide costumed feathers, a phoenix rising from the ashes of her bad publicity. Her face is covered in makeup and glitter, not an inch untouched by the glamour of the stage. She wears a full body sparkling jumpsuit that covers the scar on her neck and emphasizes her tiny, lithe body. Her music (written by Sia) is frothy, catchy and fun. She describes the songs as “sci-fi anthems” that will transport her fans out of this world. Even Celeste’s dance routines (choreographed by Portman’s husband Benjamin Millepied) serve a purpose in their stark simplicity. The dances are repetitive and easy to replicate. It’s not hard to see them spreading like wildfire across the internet in different forms of parody and homage; the newest viral hit buoyed to the top of the charts through memetic replication.


With Vox Lux, Corbet speaks to how pop music is far more about the spectacle than the music, but he also examines how unnecessary intellectual rigor or technical skill is to the process. The modern pop star’s job is not to tell us how to feel, but to provide us with a template upon which to project our feelings. They bring the melodic frame and we bring the emotional heft. It is a symbiotic relationship of sorts: we pay them to reflect ourselves back to us.

The film is a fantastic encapsulation of how we think about pop stardom in the digital age, and how artists have been forced to respond to a changing industry. The ones who succeed make the switch easily. The ones who fail cling tightly to the purity of what they consider real music. Vox Lux serves as a fitting, if clumsy, acknowledgement of the new status quo.


Vox Lux screened at TIFF, and Neon has acquired distribution rights for the film’s forthcoming release.

Cate Young (@battymamzelle): smugsexual, thundercunt hagbeast.