Sunday, June 26, 2016

The Neon Demon

Movie Name: The Neon Demon
Year of Release: 2016
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Stars: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Alessandro Nivola, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Desmond Harrington, Charles Baker, Jamie Clayton, Stacey Danger
Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7

"The Neon Demon" is Nicolas Winding Refn latest release, following the much derided "Only God Survives". The film focuses on the fashion world in Los Angeles, specifically, on young model Jesse who has recently arrived to the city. We don't know much about Jesse, save for the fact her parents aren't around, and she lives in a motel, who is run by an unsavory man. Jesse immediately turns heads with her natural beauty and youth. Jesse meets makeup artist Ruby, who becomes a friend, and introduces her to other models in the business, who are not quite as fresh and relevant. When the situation at the motel becomes dangerous, Jesse seeks Ruby's help, not noticing that Ruby has other interests beyond just being friendly. The relationship between these women escalate to dramatic and unsettling results.
"The Neon Demon" is a film that lives primarily from a point of view where the aesthetic and stylistic concepts are the main focus. There's a parable behind this film, pointing out the superficiality of the modeling world, of a society that puts so much emphasis on beauty, which ravages youth and innocence, but the film in itself, is an object of utter beauty. The characters are mere sketches for what the director is conveying, none of them have much depth, however there's a very unsettling environment he successfully builds around Jesse, one that is simultaneously menacing and beautiful. It's a film punctuated by some beautifully shot set pieces, that balance the dark and horrific side in which the story is plunged into as the film progresses. The cast is uniformly good, particularly Jena Malone and Abbey Lee, who give their characters a sense of despair and longing beyond the superficiality that is conveyed throughout the film. The score from the fantastic Cliff Martinez is awesome, as is the cinematography from Natasha Braier. A different and somewhat superficial look into this dark universe, in a film that is undeniably beautiful to look at.