Behind the gloss of pop superstardom lies a disturbing streak of social paranoia in actor Brady Corbet’s sophomore directorial effort Vox Lux. And Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman fervently embodies the sentiment in EW’s exclusive sneak peek at the upcoming prestige drama — one that could earn the 37-year-old her fourth Oscar nomination next year.
“Sometimes life just isn’t that fair, especially not nowadays,” Portman — who plays a world-renowned singer, Celeste, catapulted to fame as a teen after penning a song in tribute to the horrific school shooting she previously survived — says to her daughter (Raffey Cassidy) as they meet for lunch in the clip above. “Now, people will try and sell you anything: a TV monitor that plain as day looks like s—, but they tout it as ultra-mega-triple high-def, whatever? Their business model relies on their customers’ unshakeable stupidity, and deep down we probably sense that: their intimate knowledge of our commitment to the lowest common denominator.”
But her crusade doesn’t stop there: “It’s the official manifestation of the increasingly important urge to break with every living thing that has some connection to the past,” Celeste continues ahead of a major comeback performance in her hometown later that night, which may or may not have a hand in spiking her anxieties given her controversial past (she has a history of addiction and outlandish behavior) coupled with the tumultuous nature of the present (earlier that day, terrorists carried out a grisly attack adorned in costumes from one of Celeste’s most popular music videos).
“You know, when we weren’t paying attention, everyone got together and they voted: The traditions of the past are ugly, the past reeks too much of ugly old people and death. So, mom’s gotta stay fresh!” she finishes. “I’m pretty sure every year my videos keep getting worse and worse, but they’re doing better and better. They showed me this perfume thing we shot last year where I’m unfurling from a digital rose petal like Thumbelina. And I thought it would ruin me! But, here I am, opening for 30,000.”
Vox Lux — which also stars Jude Law, Stacy Martin, Jennifer Ehle, Christopher Abbott, and features original, Sia-penned pop songs sung by Portman — enters limited release on Friday before expanding to more theaters across the country in the weeks ahead. Watch EW’s exclusive sneak peek at the film above.