Brandon Oatsvall’s review published on Letterboxd:
I sat down for this film and really wasn't sure what to expect. I walked out and still felt a little uneasy about what I had witnessed.
The film is set in chapters, and it works out nicely for the story and some of the parallelism in Celeste's past and present. The beginning made me a little queasy, mostly because of how visceral and raw it was. I could feel my heart ready to burst from my chest watching the school scenes and watching the ambulance race to the hospital. It was during those opening credits that I knew this wasn't going to be exactly like what I had expected.
I have to say, Raffey Cassidy is a GEM. Her performance as young Celeste was somber, a girl with a tragic past that rockets to stardom and has to deal with pain, loss and fame all at the same time. She handles it all incredibly well, and Cassidy is mesmerizing at times. I almost wish that this portion of the film would have gone on a little longer, pushed Cassidy into some other places with Celeste before meeting her in the present day.
Moving onto Portman's portrayal, it was definitely a different role for her, but not at all bad. Celeste is what we expect celebrities to be like and also totally human. There are a LOT of layers to Celeste and Portman was able to bring some of Cassidy's acting into the now older character of Celeste while adding her own spin on the character that has been through some shit in the decade or so that has passed. Seeing her struggle was hard, but seeing her success was mesmerizing. It was almost as if the whole second half of the film was a rollercoaster going downhill up until Celeste is lifted up on stage and gives a spectacular performance to her hometown, her "rebirth."
Kudos to Sia for the songs in this film. They are trademark Sia songs and I can envision her or another pop star singing these on the radio. Portman and Cassidy's voices are well suited and I wouldn't mind hearing more from them in future music related projects.