DaveyPeppers’s review published on Letterboxd:
I tend to break down a film’s impact into three parts: the brain, the heart, and the soul. All three of these are necessary to make a great film, but any one of them could be at the forefront. Unfortunately though, most films aren’t great, and only strive to really affect two or even one of these three aspects. That’s okay, not every film needs to be Synecdoche, New York, in fact most really good films do one or two of the three exceptionally well, so well in fact, that even though the percentages don’t particularly add up, the film comes out as a net positive.
Vox Lux, for better and for worse, is one of those films. It’s a film that bypasses the brain and the heart and aims straight for the soul, decimating it’s singular target with laser focus and passion. Because of that, it would be a dirty lie to say that Vox Lux isn’t an incredibly impactful film that tackles its very sensitive themes with a delicate but brutal touch, but it would also be a lie to say that the film doesn’t live and dies within its 2 hour runtime.
It’s fitting that Vox Lux is about a pop star, because, as someone who does not go to many concerts because crowds and loud music don’t sit terribly well with me, it reflects every pop concert I have experienced. For a few songs you feel like a part of something, like the world, in all of its beauties and horrors, opens up to you through the guiding hand of some beautiful person who is far more talented than you will ever be. And then you drive home and go about your day.
One of the reasons I feel this is because I find Vox Lux’ first half to be far superior to its second half, as a holistic experience, but the film’s intent is not to offer a holistic experience in its final 50%, so that may not be a valid criticism. All I can speak to is my feeling, which is that throughout Vox Lux, my soul sung alongside Natalie Portman’s stellar performance. And then the lights came up in the theater and I was just me, never changed, never improved, just with a pleasant memory that fades as the rubber burns and the auditorium vanishes in the rear view mirror.