SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Vox Lux. If you have not yet seen the film, please bookmark this page and return after your screening!
Brady Corbet's Vox Lux has a legit bombshell ending, dropping a reveal that forces you to rethink everything you just watched. Specifically, we learn that Celeste's success and career as a singer was a result of not amazing talent and/or fortuitous timing, but instead a literal deal with the devil she made during her near-death experience. Knowing this forces you to reexamine everything that you think you know about Celeste, but what makes it even more interesting is that it was a key detail that Natalie Portman kept in the back of her mind throughout her entire performance:
I definitely did. I think it's sort of like what Raffey was just talking about, about it being a blessing and a curse when you know that the thing that kind of birthed you was kind of not innocent, like luck [laughs] There's a fast kind of, you know, story... You want to see her devilish sides for sure.
The ending of Vox Lux was one that kept my brain spinning for a while after I walked out of the film, and my curiosity continued until the next day when I had the pleasure of sitting down with Natalie Portman and co-star Raffey Cassidy to talk about their work on the movie. After a discussion about their very different approaches they each took towards playing the same character, I brought up the end reveal and inquired about its impact on their performances.
It turns out that it was something Portman was very much thinking about, and it resulted in her accessing some parts of the character she may not have otherwise.
The big reveal arrives just minutes before the end of Vox Lux, with Willem Dafoe's voice over narration starting up in the midst of Celeste's Vox Lux concert. It's said that when Celeste was shot in the neck at the start of the movie that she not only died, but made a deal with the devil in exchange for her life, allowing her to not only live, but also become one of the biggest celebrities in the world. Furthermore, it's strongly implied that Jude Law's character -- the unnamed Manager -- is either the devil making Celeste's dreams come true, or at least an agent of evil.
Not only does this have an effect on the way you view the life trajectory of Celeste, but also multiple other details throughout the movie. For starters, it explains Celeste's half-confession - "I think I've done something terrible" -- while in the hospital in the first act, but it also further explains why she was so entirely horrified to find her sister (Stacy Martin) and manager sleeping together (on beyond the normal reasons).
You can watch Natalie Portman discuss Vox Lux and the impact of Celeste's devilish deal by clicking play on the video below:
Following its premieres at Venice, Toronto, AFI Fest and more, Vox Lux is now out in limited release, so check your local theaters for screenings.