Film Reviews, Short Review

The Neon Demon (2016)


Since the great commercial and critical success of Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn’s films seem to have become more and more concerned with pure unadulterated aesthetic, dividing critics and audience. In truth, he has been stretching towards pure a cinema of pure aestheticism for a while now; I’ve not seen his early Pusher trilogy, but the excellent Valhalla Rising is evidence enough that here is a director primarily interested in creating cinematic moods rather than any commercial interests of looking cool, although cool is exactly what The Neon Demon looks like. Elle Fanning stars as an underage beauty model trying, like so many others, to make it in LA. Her innocence and beauty encourage extreme jealousy from her co-workers, with things going awry quickly. Though Refn’s imagery is a bit on-the-nose at times, The Neon Demon is more tableaux than moving image. There is a good deal of black humour here, which does wonders for the material: what could have been insufferably smug becomes pulpy, allowing the utterly staggering cinematography and throbbing electronica score to speak on its own.


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