Aaron Michael’s review published on Letterboxd:
This will undoubtedly appeal to some, but not to me. Vox Lux sets out to interrogate the connection, if any, between pop music and terrorism. Yeah, you read that right. Pop music and...terrorism.
I'm not adverse to this concept on principle. In fact, I think this question has the potential to give way to something really interesting, hell, even entertaining. Unfortunately, the movie is so tonally inconsistent and shoddily written, presenting half-baked ideas without fully committing to any of them, that I don't think it's worth trying to piece together Corbet's most recent depiction of megalomania.
Fans of Brady Corbet just love to bring up the fact that he's an American from Scottsdale, Arizona. He's been lauded for his European sensibilities and for being wise beyond his years. I guess what they really mean is that they don't expect people from Scottsdale to make movies that are so chalk full of pretension.
After I saw The Childhood of a Leader, I wrote:
"For all that it does well - a great score, strong production design, and striking direction - it never really manages to capitalize on Corbet's ambition.
This statement is equally true for Vox Lux. Corbet seems completely disinterested in creating a fully realized movie, instead he's just pushing together an amalgam of bold choices and seeing what happens. If it works for you, I'm jealous. For me, it's grating. There's nothing more frustrating than watching a movie where the director's unique ideas and solid techniques are readily apparent, yet they fail to meaningfully coalesce.
Like The Childhood of a Leader, there's plenty to like about Vox Lux. Yes, Natalie Portman is good (even if it feels like she's in a completely different movie than what we see in the first half). The music is fun, the performances are cool...but the stuff I enjoyed ended up being sidelined in favor of this...frankly fake deep discourse about pop music and violence.
Listen, I'm not opposed to violence in movies, but if you're going to start your movie with a graphic school shooting meant to remind the audience of Columbine and then go onto to include not one, but two terrorist attacks as plot devices, you should have a good reason for it.
Vox Lux fails to justify the inclusion of these elements. There's a faint attempt made at deriving some meaning from the moments of extreme violence, but they're passed over so quickly that it left me feeling like the whole movie was just Corbet indulging in his own nihilistic fantasies.
Moreover, I don't believe Vox Lux even *gets* pop music. There's a line where young Celeste says, "I don't want people to think, I just want them to feel good." Maybe that's true, maybe that's true of the artist, but it's not true of the fans. Talk to any fan of pop music and they'll tell you how meaningful it is to them, they'll share stories about how certain songs and records remind them of important times in their lives and how it helped them survive tough experiences. Vox Lux posits pop music as a gimmick, a facade, as inferior.
If we're being honest, that sounds exactly like the kind of movie a 30-year-old from Scottsdale, AZ would make.