The Neon Demon Review
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn.
Nicolas Winding Refn always manages to leave a taste of undecidedness in your mouth. But, in short, it's a visual masterpiece. I've enjoyed his previous four films, with Drive being a personal favourite. Only God Forgive was better the second time round, I appreciated it more rewatching it and Valhalla Rising/Bronson being my introduction.
Loaded with amazing, dramatic, artist shots and long pauses that teases the audience and creates an incredible tension, allowing everything to flow in epic fashion so when it hits, it hits hard. This film is intense and done so beautifully well.
It's about a fresh, young Jessie coming to terms with the pretentious modelling world that appears to have chosen her. Those already there become envious of her natural beauty and undivided attention she receives, cravings leading to conniving, it becomes vicious and disturbing, cat walking more than one controversial taboo.
Elle Fanning, Dakota's (The Patriot, World of The Worlds) little sister plays the lead who has an uncanny look of Carey Mulligan who was originally set to cast. We watch the metamorphosis of complete innocence, childlike empress to an almost sinister, enchanting bitch that evidently ends up as just a piece of meat. You see how misplaced and uncomfortable she is and then there's that sudden realisation, the switch and how her face changes in that elongated brief moment.
Hungry Games' Jena Malone plays her seductive 'friend' and is strangely chaperoned by fellow, egotistic models Bella Heathcote (Aussie soap Neighbours, Pride & Prejudice & Zombies) and Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road, Gods of Egypt) who both resemble androids, like something from a Philip K. Dick novel. Not quite human, artificial and trying to be something else.
The soundtrack is mind-blowingly good and makes fifty percent of the film. NWR's regular, Cliff Martinez does an amazing score that if you could colour music, it would be neon. Haunting, atmospheric and at times ambient. It's something like what Vangelis did for Blade Runner, dotting conversations and awkward silences with gentle sounds and then pounding the cinema with heavy beats reminiscent of a night club.
There's more to this movie than even the trailer suggests and the cast and roles are intriguing and at the same time vulgar, full of self importance. This is what I expect from NWR and arty films. The cinematography being vibrant and elegant yet quite brutal and disgusting. It's not going to be for everyone's taste, maybe a selected few but for me, it's impressive filmmaking, a visionary, a clockwork neon.
Running Time: 6
The Cast: 9
Job Description: 9
The Extra Bonus Point: 10 for the vision and the incredible pairing of soundtrack and film.