An unlikely star embodies celebrity’s dark side.
The new Natalie Portman movie about fame’s pitfalls “comes on like the evil twin of A Star Is Born,” said John Powers in Vogue.com. “Brash, wildly inventive, and occasionally assaultive,” Vox Lux opens with a 1999 school shooting in which one of the survivors suffers a grave spinal injury. But 13-year-old Celeste transforms herself into America’s sweetheart by writing a hit song about her experience, and the movie built around her long stay in the spotlight “bristles with ideas and cinematic invention.” Act 2 flashes forward to 2017, when Celeste is a jaded, alcoholic pop diva played by Portman, said Chris Nashawaty in Entertainment Weekly. Director Brady Corbet presents her as having become part of a trash culture that sows violence, but he “doesn’t seem as interested in the answers to the glib questions he raises as he is in creating a cynical riddle cloaked in style.” Then again, Vox Lux has Portman, said Richard Lawson in VanityFair.com. One-upping her work in Black Swan, she delivers a “go-for-broke” performance that has Celeste tacking wildly from fiery rage to drug-addled self-pity. “It’s a thrill watching her dive into something like this, continuing her startling transformation from ingenue to nervy character actress.” ■