The Neon Demon (2016) ★★★★★

A cleverly-crafted critique of the fashion industry. 

Aspiring model, Jesse (Elle Fanning), immerses herself in the most frightening industry, otherwise known as the modelling scene. With little to no reputation, she begins to cultivate hers as “the next big thing”. The more exprienced models don’t take this particularly well, bearing in mind each of them have been fighting for this position their entire lives.

By fascinating us with his exquisite insights, and capturing them in such a way that we are stunned to silence, Winding Refn has proved himself a filmmaker that thrives off taking risks. He has started to weave in his very own lexicon: neon visuals and deep symbolism are among the essentials. Outside of Winding Refn’s fans, The Neon Demon may be of interest to others, but some may interpret his work to be controversial. Themes range from your everyday conversation topic of Cannibalism to the even more delightful, Necrophilia.

The Neon Demon is an odd film. The whole premise is very dream-like and surreal, which only enhances the film. Its narrative is simple on the surface, but it is presented in such a peculiar way as to make the viewer contemplate profoundly. Dripping with colour, the cinematography makes for the stand-out selling point. Each frame is intricately designed to a bizarre, but captivating level. Winding Refn doesn’t veer away from incorporating striking neon elements, which he is all too well known for. An entrancing score takes further grasp of the unsteady atmosphere we are immersed in, particularly “Waving Goodbye”, performed by Sia. The tone of the film is very distinctive, and will certainly not appeal to every viewer. Symbolism is key; it is honest, elaborate and narcissistic. But as far as stylized films go, it’s hard to get better than this.

Elle Fanning glows in her peculiar role, and fits the part shockingly well. Fanning makes her acting breakthrough here, with a distinctly bold performance. The remaining cast is excellent, Jena Malone and Desmond Harrington especially. Neither are afraid to get their hands dirty…

Deeply unsettling, The Neon Demon is not afraid to be different. It has stunning visual invention, and an atmosphere like no other. Your eyes will be glued to the screen. In a world of “beauty”, we are presented with horror.

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4 thoughts on “The Neon Demon (2016) ★★★★★

  1. I think if I had seen this movie without knowing it came from the same director as Drive, maybe I wouldn’t have set the standards so high. I found this movie very beautiful, but very bland. Nothing since Drive from NWR has quite hit the mark for me, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

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