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Film / Vox Lux

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Vox Lux is a 2018 music drama film directed by Brady Corbet, with original music written by Sia.

In 1999, teenage Celeste (Raffey Cassidy) survives a brutal school shooting after being shot in the spine. After singing at a memorial service, Celeste transforms into a burgeoning pop star with the help of her songwriter sister (Stacy Martin) and a talent manager (Jude Law). By 2017, adult Celeste (Natalie Portman) starts a comeback after a scandalous incident that derailed her career. Touring in support of her sixth album, a compendium of sci-fi anthems entitled Vox Lux, Celeste must try to bring some harmony to her teenage daughter (also Cassidy) and regenerate her career again.

This film provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Deal with the Devil: Celeste made one, or at least believes she did, to save her life after being shot.
  • Disappeared Dad: Albertine's father clearly isn't very involved with her life (unsurprisingly, as her conception was due to a single encounter, plus him being messed up).
  • Freudian Excuse: Given all she went through as a teen and young adult, it's no surprise that Celeste grew up to an extremely flawed person.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Celeste mentions having believed in God once, but "grew up" and sarcastically offers herself as a subject of worship to religious terrorists. She's also really messed up, has a very traumatic past, and struggles with addiction. It's somewhat implied she stopped believing after being shot and nearly dying (she'd offered to pray along with the school shooter right before).
  • Identical Grandson: Thanks to both being played by the same actress, Celeste's teenage daughter Albertine has the exact same appearance as Celeste herself as a teenager.
  • Jerkass: Celeste as an adult is extremely rude, short-tempered, abrasive and bigoted.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Celeste is less talented than Eleanor, who writes all her songs, but somehow wasn't able to break through like Celeste was, and never gained fame. Bad luck and choices combined with a lack of Celeste's magnetism and star power? Probably, but Eleanor wasn't at the school shooting (she was sick that day), while Celeste is constantly implied to have seen or experienced something that set her on her path to icon status.
  • Mum Looks Like a Sister: Due to having had Albertine in her teens Celeste looks more like her older sister than her mother (they also looked the same when that age).
  • One-Night-Stand Pregnancy: Celeste got pregnant with Albertine due to a one-time tryst.
  • Patched Together from the Headlines: Celeste's story begins with Columbine, and concludes with a beach-set shooting much like the 2015 Sousse attacks, while there's also a more than passing resemblance between washed up teen sensation turned dark and edgy adult singer Celeste and Britney Spears.
  • Pet the Dog: She won't be winning "mother of the year" any time soon but Albertine is the only person the adult Celeste is ever genuinely nice to and tries to be a caring parent for despite her own issues and immaturity.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Celeste makes a number of ableist comments, calling her sister "retarded", and is said to have been in a car accident where she made a number of racist comments to the other driver.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Celeste's discography is written by Sia. The orchestral score, meanwhile, was the last work of music ever done by Scott Walker.
  • Ripped from the Headlines:
    • The school shooting Celeste survives is very loosely Columbine (or at least some myth version of it, based on the year (1999), trench coats and a conversation about God between a teenage girl, who survived being shot, and the shooter.
    • The 2017 shooting seems to be a hybrid of the 2015 Sousse attacks (taking place in Croatia rather than Tunisia) as a mass shooting from masked men and multiple assailants taking place on a beach, though there is an additional Charles Manson vibe to the use of Celeste's masks, which is invented.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Celeste got pregnant with Albertine while still a teenager.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The kind, idealistic Celeste we meet when she is a teen is almost entirely unrecognizable from the abrasive, foul-mouthed trainwreck we see in the present.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story:
    • See Ripped from the Headlines above to see the ways in which it's distinctly not, but other than that...
    • Similar to Britney Spears, Celeste's career kicks off in 1999 when she is a teenager, she is primarily known by Only One Name in her music career, she also has a less famous sister who works in a similar industry, she has children young and she endures a breakdown in the mid-00s involving car accidents and drug problems, which leads to a Darker and Edgier reboot of her career.