Writers: Nicolas Winding Refn, Polly Stenham, Mary Laws
DOP: Natasha Braier
Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Keanu Reeves
When aspiring model Jesse moves to LA, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
As per Nicolas Winding Refn, who describes himself as a pornographer, Neon Demon came out of his desire to make an horror film about beauty and obsession. There is nothing better than fashion industry to set such a story in. We are used to many such films and what I've back in mind is not Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Fashion', with which I had the misfortune of having to watch thirty minutes of it. I am mostly talking about films like Black Swan and The Starry Eyes. But it is not to say they are similar because the approach is entirely different. When he describes himself as a pornographer, what he means is that he likes to film what he wants to see and the objective is to get a reaction. All his recent English films have scenes that are supposed to shock you towards the latter half and become news. Compared to Drive and Only God Forgives, he goes even more extreme this time round and you've to see it for yourself. As far as narrative and dialogue is concerned, it is much more simpler till the last act where it goes ape-shit and all symbolically literal.
It is a good watch but you're left with the feeling that you're not seeing something deep or new. That is also kind of apt as that is how the fashion world is. It is purely down to your preferences though. It is gorgeous to look at like all his films with stunning soundtrack from Cliff Martinez. The performances are all good and it may go on to become a cult classic. It got a very divisive response from Cannes and Refn was delighted with it.
If I were to rank his films the order would be:
1. Only God Forgives
3. Valhalla Rising
4. Pusher 1
5. Neon Demon