‘Visionary director’ Nicholas Winding Refen returns to sunder audiences with a ferocious disection of self-obsession and the fashion industry through the eyes of a young aspiring model.
Inocence and beatuy are laid bare, ripe for corruption, when the superb Elle Fanning’s pure and delicate Jesse arrives to the devilishly shot setting of LA. Refn excels in crafting dangerous scenes using this familiar backdrop, the big flashy mansions, the creepy motel run by a malicious Keanu Reeves and the glitsy open offices all feel distored and uncomfortable.
It weaves a tapisty of eeriness throughout the whole picture. One partiulcar photo-shoot scene involving gold paint peels you open inviting an unsettling sense of dread to come sit next to you. It’s shot wide with an arresting lighting arrangment and coupled with the menacing looking photographer you feel vulnerable with Jesse.
Elle Fanning is certainly the shining star of The Neon Demon. Her shy and sinlessness charm plumet her into the merky and jealousy fuled world of modeling. The girls she encounters won’t think twice about chewing each other up and spitting them out. Their deadset acting, with deadpan delivery creates a vampiric presence on screen exacerbating the feelings of apprehension within the film. Even Jena Malone’s ‘Good Girl’ doesn’t feel trustworthy despite bringing Jesse under her wing.
An dreamlike incident involving a wild cat breaking into a motel room unfortunetly sends the film toward an hour of NWR indulgence. It feels like his idea’s for where to take the film next began to run dry and instead, he sends his characters into a surreal journey from scene to scene that each reference a different filmic genre. What could have be a dazzling phsychological thriller meanders into a frustratingly empty and dull finale. The last 30 minutes dilute the insidiously intended ending, rather than being shocking and gut-wrenching. Instead I found my self scrunching my nose at it’s predicibility.
Say what you will regarding NWR but the writer/director has macabre ability to splash a striking vision across the screen but when it comes to the story within, it feels insubstantial. It’s hard to tell if this is purposful considering the world the film is set but if you’re commited enough to sit through it for yourself maybe you can make more sense of the film than I.