Vox Lux [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Three Six Zero Recordings/Columbia Records
Straight up, I’ll tell you that I fucking loved this movie! And I would have been prepared to love the soundtrack just for the Scott Walker score. And when I say that I mean just for exisiting – I was on board with the idea before hearing it, or seeing the film. I’m glad I got to the film first and then took in the soundtrack as its own thing after. This is a case of a soundtrack really only working if you’ve seen the film, for the score – and most definitely the songs – are characters in the film.
Sia is the songwriter for this movie. So fans of hers will be on board with that knowledge (but I’d still recommend a viewing of the film).
Sia’s songs are performed here by the two actors that portray the film’s main character, Celeste. She’s a little post-breakdown Britney, a little pre-breakdown Gaga. You can throw all sorts of things at her if you like, Miley, Taylor…it’s a composite character. And when she’s a teenager she’s played by Raffey Cassidy. As an adult on the comeback-trail she’s inhabited by Natalie Portman.
The soundtrack works backwards, the Portman-sung anthems first, then the Cassidy vulnerability studies and finally Walker’s score (which of course is a thread through the film, popping up in and around the songs. Sometimes we hear that ghostly voice, other times its strings. There were no sides of beef slapped – or even herded – in the making of this score!)
I’m sure I’ll watch Vox Lux again (and again) but in the days (and days) since I saw (and reviewed) the film I’ve been re-watching it in my mind with this soundtrack providing the triggers, the accompaniment.
Now, I can appreciate Sia’s writing – it’s known she’s been a hitmaker for others as well as for herself – but I am not actively a fan. That might change with this soundtrack compilation.
She writes so well for the character/s here – and Portman is ace in her delivery. EKG is wonderful, as is Firecracker and on Sweat and Tears we get a reminder of the rap-star that SNL unearthed with their wonderful parodies where Portman spat venom.
Maybe, though, the best ‘songs’ and certainly the ones with emotional weight are those Sia composed for Cassidy to sing. Your Body Talk could be a Florence and the Machine banger and Hologram (Smoke and Mirrors) trumps that.
This is the sort of pop music I wouldn’t normally bother with – but would totally respect if it caught my ear, but the way it was served up, in-character, as part of the script basically, as a living breathing part of a film both somehow insular and immersive, well, I’m hooked on the tunes.
And then, as mentioned, there’s Walker’s score. The deep bowed cellos of Prelude, the Gorecki-like light and shade of the Opening Credits, his Anthem and Yearning reminiscent of Clint Mansell’s Kronos Quartet-played score from Requiem For A Dream.
So of course I’m in heaven.
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