When I heard the Nicolas Winding Refn was making a horror movie I have to admit I may have squeed a bit in sheer delight. Having seen and loved Bronson and Drive my hopes were sky high. I was day dreaming of genre smashing defiance and trope changers. But did I get that? Read on and see!
The Neon Demon opens with a gruesome death tableau on which the beautiful Jesse (Elle Fanning) is lying in what seems to be a pool of her own blood. Thankfully, we soon see that the scene is actually a photo shoot and Jesse is an aspiring model. After shooting she gets chummy with makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone) and is quickly invited to a party where she meets Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), fellow models who seem to not quite take to Jesse. However, they are the only ones as every casting agent and photographer seems to fall under the spell of the lolita-esque beauty.Unlike most doe-eyed ingenue, Jesse knows she’s a stunner and isn’t afraid to wield her youth and beauty to achieve her hearts desire. But in doing so she smashes the toes of Ruby, Gigi and Sarah. Which is where things get interesting.
I have to be honest and say I am not entirely sure how I feel about this movie. It’s gorgeous to behold for sure, but the plot was thin and sorely lacking. There were avenues to go down with which are never traversed. I never fell for Jesse’s charms like everyone else. Which may be the intent of this film. To alienate the viewer much like Jesse does, or she’s just another underwritten female face. As you can see The Neon Demon has left me a bit muddled. The same way I feel this film is. As a moving picture it’s glorious. As a film with a narrative it’s a bit of a clunker. And that pains me deeply to say. I was expecting so much more from Mr. Winding Refn.
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