Natalie Portman has played down claims that her character in Brady Corbet’s music drama Vox Lux is a “monster,” but that the film, which follows the rise of her pop star Celeste from the ashes of a major national tragedy, is a “reflection of our society.”
The Black Swan star plays Celeste, a pop star in 2017 trying to get through a series of scandals and make a comeback.
Earlier in the film, The Killing of a Sacred Deer’s Raffey Cassidy plays a younger Celeste, who survives a tragedy and becomes a pop star after performing at the memorial service. She is aided along the way by her songwriting sister, played by Stacy Martin, and manager, played by Jude Law. Later in the film, Cassidy plays the daughter. Jennifer Ehle also co-stars.
Portman says there is the theme of a “loss of innocence” across the movie. However, she says that doesn’t see her character as a monster.
Corbet, who made his helming debut with 2015’s The Childhood of a Leader which also premiered in Venice added, “She’s not designed to be a monster at all. She’s as much a victim of the era as a leader of the era. The film is very much about the fact that the 20th century was marked by the term ‘the banality of evil’ and the 21st century will be defined by the pageantry of evil. The films themes and the characters are intrinsically linked.”
Portman said it’s not a movie with a message about gun control but rather a “piece of art” that highlights the intersection of pop culture and violence.
“I think if anything it’s an incredible reflection of the moment we live in,” she said. “It gives me a feeling that art does, not a message hammered over my head. I hope it makes people feel things that they recognize and they can see some of the things that we’re facing right now.
“I’ve definitely been interested in the questions around the psychology of what violence does to individuals and to group psychology, coming from a place where people have encountered it for so long. Unfortunately, it’s been a phenomenon in the United States that we experience regularly with the school shootings, which are, as Brady has put it, a type of civil war and terror in the U.S. and what that means for every kid going to school every day and how small acts of violence can create widespread psychology torment.”
The film is produced by Killer Films and Bold Films in association with Andrew Lauren Productions and Three Six Zero. Sierra/Affinity handles worldwide sales.
Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum selling artist Sia composed the soundtrack with original music for the film, though Portman was quick to clarify that she is not playing a version of Sia.
The film is narrated by Willem Dafoe, a point that Corbet equated to being a fan of the sardonic narration in Robert Musil’s The Man Without Qualities. Corbet also dedicated the film to Jonathan Demme, who gave the young director an award for The Childhood of a Leader.