Natalie Portman throws herself completely into her role as a pop star in this odd character study that seems to have something to say about celebrity and tragedy, it's just not entirely clear what.
In the early 2000s, American teenager Celeste (Raffey Cassidy – Tomorrowland) barely survives a high school shooting. After her musical performance at the memorial service goes viral, a music manager (Jude Law) helps turn Celeste into a big-time singer.
In 2017, adult Celeste (Portman) is now a major star in the Katy Perry/Taylor Swift mode, and has a teenage daughter of her own, Albertine (also played by Cassidy).
Just before she is about to perform the first concert on a comeback tour, Celeste's music is linked with a terrorist incident. As the self-destructive Celeste tries to keep it together for her big performance, drama swirls around her.
Portman is pretty amazing in the lead role and especially impressive in the arena concert finale, in which she very capably sings songs written by acclaimed pop star Sia while also performing choreographed dance moves.
There's interesting chemistry in the scenes between Portman and Cassidy, who impresses in her dual role as young Celeste and Celeste's daughter.
Willem Dafoe's presence as an unseen narrator helps set the somewhat detached tone of the film, which constantly seems on the verge of saying something, but never quite does.
There's no lack of ambition in the second film written and directed by actor turned film-maker Brady Corbet, but for all his embracing of hot button issues like fame and violence, he stops well short of issuing any discernable perspective. Is this perhaps the point?
Natalie Portman, Jude Law, Jennifer Ehle
R13 (Violence, offensive language, drug use & sexual material)
Sonically and dramatically interesting, if ultimately somewhat befuddling.