In Vox Lux, Natalie Portman plays Celeste, a mega pop star who, at a young age, survived a tragic school shooting. For writer-director Brady Corbet, he said that the Neon movie is also about the loss of innocence.
“[Celeste] acts as an avatar to define cultural moments of the era,” Corbet told Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro at Deadline The Contenders on Saturday. “It writes itself.”
Corbet was joined on the stage by Portman, who also executive produced the film, as well as Raffey Cassidy, who plays a younger version of Celeste as well as adult Celeste’s daughter.
Portman said the script was so rich and there were very specific character details. In order for her to get into the mind-set of a pop star, the Academy Award-winning actress watched a lot of pop star documentaries to present an amalgamation of female pop stars.
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“This isn’t based on any person…there were details stolen from different people,” said Portman. She goes on to point out that with travel, time in the spotlight, performing night after night, the lifestyle for these women is crazy and that the character was very complicated and emotional.
The film included choreography from Portman’s husband Benjamin Millepied as well as music from pop star Sia. Corbet said that throughout the script he had lyrics to songs that would eventually exist. He researched how pop songs were made and wanted to have a musician that wrote their own material as well as for others.
“Sia was the first person on my list,” said Corbet. “If she hadn’t agreed, I don’t know who I would have gone to next.
There’s a 13-and-a-half-minute concert scene in the final moments of the film which took a day and a half — and that was part of an impressive 22-day shoot.
“It is remarkable to see someone who knows what they want and how to do it,” Portman said of Corbet’s swiftness with the film which opens in limited release December 7. “It was beautifully conceived.”
Corbet laughs about shooting in 22 days: “I don’t know….please don’t make me do it again.” He adds, “It can be done, but that doesn’t mean it should be done.”
In Neon’s buzzy documentary Three Identical Strangers, we are introduced to three complete strangers make the astounding discovery at age 19 that they are identical triplets separated at birth.
“I was never meant to make this film,” director Tim Wardle told Deadline’s Dominic Patten. He was approached with the story and he said: “I could see it was the single best documentary story I have ever heard.”
Beyond the front-facing topics, the movie explored bigger themes such as free will, family and nature versus nurture. The more Wardle became involved in the film, the more he felt like he had to make it. “No one could get rid of me,” he laughed.
The documentary is embedded with old-school investigative journalism aspects and for Wardle and the Three Identical Strangers team, they were faced with challenges in telling the story. As opposed to other documentaries that had tangible footage and documentation, they had no sources or a foundation to work from.
“There wasn’t a book it wasn’t based on,” Wardle points out. “It was an arduous process.”
They had to get their hands dirty, knock on doors and shuffle through documents in order to get the story to the screen.
The documentary takes an interesting turn towards the end. In an effort to not spoil it, Wardle said that it shifts genres. “It starts as a John Hughes movie and then shifts to an identity thriller.”
Wardle said that the story doesn’t end with the siblings in the documentary. He said that he has been approached by many people who have discovered twins or triplets out there that were adopted from the same agency featured in the film.
“It’s a shocking story but still evolving today,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s giving justice to those who have been separated.”
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