Vox Lux ★★★★½

As much about how an audience needs a star as it is about how a star needs her audience. "My little angels," Celeste says on stage, living for the applause of her fans, the people who keep her going even as she slides into the oddities and mediocrities of a new realm of pop. The years keep going by and she's still the same demanding, insecure young woman who is unsure of her identity, simply spouting what the devil himself has whispered in her ear. She'll never die, no matter what she says or does though. She's Faust, but she's got soul. Her soul lives on in the music, in the personas she puts on, in the words she writes and the music her sister provides her, in the jobs she continues to supply to everyone who puts on a show, who makes an album, who helps create this icon. Pop isn't as surface level as we know it; there's so much going on in the background, trauma able to show up at any moment, but at the end of the day, the show must go on. And so it does, not with a bang, but with the same flourishes and movements and style as every other icon, as every other concert. And though we've seen it before, and Celeste exists as an icon we all know (formed from the ashes of a number of identities), she may not matter to us, but she matters to her fans - from the teen crying that she's at a Celeste show (knowing this will be one of the best nights of her life) to the sister and daughter who are along for the ride, knowing in their heart that, at the very least, in this one moment, this woman know to be a deeply damaged mess is nothing but sincere in what she's presenting on that stage. Music is as much of a damnation as it is a salvation.