Natalie Portman is known for her transformative performances, from Nina in Black Swan to Jackie Kennedy in Jackie. In her newest role for Vox Lux, she plays a pop diva whose life offstage is vastly different from the performances she puts on for her thousands of screaming fans each night. From the trailer alone, it’s clear that this film will stand out in Portman’s repertoire.
Vox Lux follows Portman’s character, Celeste, and her sister, Eleanor, from when they survive a tragedy at their high school in the late ’90s, Entertainment Tonight reports. Celeste rises to fame after singing a song at a memorial service, and 16 years later, she’s a mother with a teenage daughter who’s struggling to balance her life with her career.
“This is a culmination of my life’s work so far,” Portman’s character says in the trailer, in response to an interviewer asking about her new album. “I was under a lot of stress after my accident, but that’s what the show is about. It’s about rebirth.”
After this statement, the trailer starts to show the dichotomy between Celeste’s stage presence and her daily life. There’s a voiceover where she says to her screaming audience, “So tell me, how many of you have cried yourself to sleep at night? People have been trying to take me down for years. But I won’t stay down.”
Then we see the reality: Celeste asking paparazzi not to follow her, angrily telling off a fan who requests a photo at a restaurant, showing surprise when her daughter (Raffey Cassidy, who also plays young Celeste) says she’s worried.
Near the end of the trailer, members of Celeste’s team — one wearing a glittery jacket with her name written across the back — clear out of her dressing room as she screams, “I am sick of everybody treating me like I’m not a person!” The only person remaining is her manager, played by Jude Law, who seems to be by her side through everything — including a heartbreaking moment where she admits that she’s “scared.”
The Vox Lux trailer also shows a masked gunman, SWAT swarming a building and a car exploding, as well as Celeste undergoing a medical procedure. Neon teases violence in the movie’s plot description on YouTube, which the trailer certainly hints at.
From plot descriptions and the trailer, it would seem that Vox Lux is approaching timely topics from a dramatic, over-the-top angle while invoking famous pop stars of the present and past. Portman’s look in the trailer is reminiscent of Lady Gaga’s shock-inducing costumes from her early years as a performer, and her overall behavior invokes headlines about stars like Britney Spears and anyone else who’s ever been criticized for mishandling their fame. It looks like a wild, emotional ride, and we are here for it.
Vox Lux hits theaters Dec. 7.