Nicolas Winding Refn is one of the few directors that just by releasing a new film I am automatically interested in seeing it. Drive was the first film of his that I watched and while every film hasn’t been as straight forward and Hollywood like, his films are always different and fantastic visually. The Neon Demon is no exception to that. Unlike his previous films I do feel like this film was a tad bit mis-marketed. You are lead to believe that this was going to be a horror/thriller only to really find out that this is just a dark comedy. In many ways this is the best parody film I’ve seen in quite some time, that doesn’t just spoof the popular movies that year.
In the film we follow Jesse (played by Elle Fanning) who is trying to make it as a model in Los Angeles. Right away you get the feeling that this movie doesn’t take place in the real world. Everything acts weird, the conversations and dialogue are slow and strange and things only continue to get weirder as Jesse gets more involved in the fashion industry. Its really when she gets in where we begin to see the type of movies this is going to be. Everyone who already works in the industry in the film feel like super exaggerated versions of what people would think these type of people would act.
Again, this is really made clear until much later in the film but as we start off you don’t really know what the film is trying to do. Early on you notice that everyone that comes into contact with Jesse is memorized to the point of obsession. The is shown in the few interview scenes as well as photo shoot scenes Jesse partakes in where most of the other models are put to the side as everyone becomes obsessed with Jesse’s beauty. The obsession only continues the grow as other models become threatened by this and the concept of natural beauty is explored a bit through the exaggeration of these characters.
You really have to accept this world that that things that wouldn’t pass here are not only pushed aside but are welcome as this world in the film clearly flipped. I find it weird criticizing this movie because I think a lot of the complaints I have is what the film was trying to do on purpose as everything relates to the fashion industry and really the imagination people have of it. What do I mean by this?
Well one example is that the film is gorgeous, every shot every new scene is lit and colorized in the way that I don’t think I’ve seen in any film. But the movie looks so good all the film to the point that if feels empty. I don’t know how else to describe it really, the films looks good but I don’t really remember any singular shot as they all kind of blend together. As for the parody side, I feel like not everyone will be able to get what Refn is parodying if they have no context as to how LA feels or really what the fashion industry is like. It doesn’t have a wide appeal, which again isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The one thing I can always say about a Refn film is that is unlike any movie I will see that year. The Neon Demon is one of those films, I can also see this film gaining a cult following as years pass as this films seems to be very decisive already. Maybe its because I am tired of seeing the same old Hollywood movie or that this was a much smarter film that people are giving it credit for. Again, not for everyone but if you are interesting in seeing a different film this is one for you.