The Neon Demon review: ‘a wonderfully stylish and stylised movie’
Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn, 117 mins, starring: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote
The Neon Demon is really a wonderfully stylish and stylised movie, a workout in narcissism and grotesquerie by which director Nicolas Winding Refn requires a morbid pleasure in showing youthful and glamorous people acting in an exceedingly ugly and self-obsessed fashion. It’s pitched approximately a satire along with a horror picture, from a Russ Meyer exploitation pic along with a very serious art movie.
The video provides a similar story to that particular told in David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and David Cronenberg’s Maps Towards The Stars. This can be a cautionary tale in regards to a youthful lady from on vacation, attracted towards the vibrant lights of La. Jesse (Elle Fanning) is nice natured and apparently naive but she’s around the make. Barely switched 16 but told to pretend she’s is 19, the youthful model has “that look”, the “thing” that enraptures photography enthusiasts and designers. She does not have every other real talents but recognizes that she will earn money from her looks. Beauty is her currency.
Among the film’s pleasures is the actual way it distorts and defamiliarises LA configurations we view numerous occasions before – seedy hotels, Hollywood estates with empty pools, agents’ offices, photography galleries and warehouses. The eeriness is highlighted through the hypnotic electronic score from composer High cliff Martinez.
Like his fellow Dane Lars Von Trier, Refn is ready to push suggestions to extremes and also to challenge conventional notions about genre, characterisation and taste. At occasions, he appears as obsessive about surface beauty as his protagonists. A simple sequence showing Jesse meeting a professional photographer friend around the roads is shot at “magic hour”, therefore we can find the full impact of the orange hued Californian dusk. Refn starts having a Dario Argento-style shot of the model on the chaise longue, composed to appear as though she’s just had her throat cut. Once the bloodstream starts to spill legitimate, the director is extremely artful (and incredibly arch) in the manner he shows it being shed.
The deadpan, affectless performances are coupled with strange surrealistic flourishes. An eyeball features as conspicuously because it did in United nations Chien Andalou, there’s a really bizarre scene of the cougar running amok inside a motel room and also the lines between dream and reality are constantly blurred.
Using their slender frames and oral cavity bones, the models Sarah and Gigi (Lee and Heathcote) look ethereal, even angelic. Their conversation, though, is extremely base – about sex, cosmetic surgery and cash. They’re like vampires of the underworld, preying on Jesse.
After some tweaking, The Neon Demon could easily happen to be performed like a comedy. Its script (co-compiled by Refn with Mary Laws and regulations and Polly Stenham) has lots of witty one-inserts. Jesse’s rival models are extremely youthful but simply not youthful enough. “Once you hit 21, you’re irrelevant,” one character observes forlornly. Keanu Reeves, when a Hollywood pin-up, is really a grizzled and bad tempered motel manager. There’s something comical in addition to sinister about Jena Malone’s character, a make-up artist who works inside a mortuary and constitutes a blundering make an effort to seduce Jesse. The greater solemn the video becomes and also the more operatic its violence, the greater apparent it would be that the storytelling is partially tongue in oral cavity. Refn, who once directed Geraldine McEwan inside a Miss Marple drama for British TV, includes a perfectly developed feeling of irony.
This isn’t just pastiche David Lynch or another caustic yarn about pampered Californian types acting badly. Important so distinctive and thus jarring is the actual way it constantly shifts tone and perspective. It’s elegant and juvenile, shocking and satirical by turns.