On a first watch, ‘The Neon Demon’ never clicked with me on a deeper level; but this time I could see below the surface – where it’s dark and perverse – and understood (and liked) what I saw.
It’s about Jesse (Elle Fanning), an aspiring model who is new to Los Angeles. However, her youth and vitality soon draw the attention of the jealous, narcissistic, beauty-obsessed young women around her, who will use any means necessary to get what she has…
This is a depraved look at beauty and the fashion industry. It’s a toxic desire, a poisonous attribute, envied and lamented. Elle Fanning is like an innocent soul pestered by demons in the underworld, attracting every gaze because of her natural look and pureness, uncorrupted yet corruptible. The themes are daring, challenging, provocative.
Plus it’s no surprise that a film revolving around perfection is made by someone who strives to get just that in every frame of his films. Visually this is stunning; the colours are hypnotic, garish, perfect. And the score is alluring, almost retro with its use of synthesisers, further transfixing us in its unpleasant world.
Overall, Nicolas Winding Refn serves up an engrossing and stylish experience that typifies him as a filmmaker. Simply put, this is a horror film, and the last half hour is proof of that. (Bring a strong stomach).
Score – 8/10