Review: The Neon Demon

Title: The Neon Demon
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Nicholas Winding Refn
Starring: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Christina Hendricks
Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins

What It Is: When an aspiring young model Jesse (Fanning) moves to Los Angeles in order to follow her dreams. As she gains some prowess in the world of modeling she seems to also be garnering haters. These haters manifest themselves in the form of “older” models Gigi and Sarah (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee) their jealousy is palpable towards their younger colleague. With only a handful of positive influences where will Jesse go in the girl eat girl world of modeling.

What We Think: I’m quite over Refn’s pretension. With that said this film is somewhat full of itself but that works. It’s a film about a machine run on ego and vanity (the fashion industry) and he we watch a group of models quite literally get swallowed up in this world. Elle Fanning gives a good performance and you can feel her vulnerability and naivety. Heathcote and Lee play up the bitchiness to eleven and that sort of works too. Jena Malone is really good as a makeup artist turned confidant to young Jesse. There’s also this weird subplot involving the manager of the motel Jesse is staying at played by Keanu Reeves which seems to drive home Jesse’s paranoia and distrust of the city she now resides in.

Our Grade: B-, I enjoyed this but I can’t shake Refn’s pretense. This guy is so far in his own ass that sometimes it is hard to see the brilliance. Only Terrence Malick can surpass that level of self-indulgence. See Knight of Cups for a good example. From the aspects of both score and cinematography this might be one of the most gorgeous films I’ve seen all year. I’d recommend that everyone check it out particularly if you’re a fan of Refn’s previous work.

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