The term “style over substance” is generally a derogatory term aimed at the most egregious blockbusters, in the case of The Neon Demon it can be considered a good thing. The film is extravegently weird, with each hypnotic sequence outdoing the next, filled with dazzling cinematography and gorgeous visuals. While the themes may be more simplistic that Nichlas Winding Refn’s other films, its a beautiful film to watch, a sensual and sneaky thriller.
Jessie (Elle Fanning) is an aspiring model headed to Los Angeles to break out, and she quickly finds success by signing with an agency. As she rises to the top, other models begin to despise her, loathing her easy success.With the world ahead of her, Jesse fears what happens as she continues, with others out to take what she has.
Not enough can be said about the visual mastery of Refn, with each shot looking like a painting, creating a dazzling spectacle that almost requires no audio. Thankfully though, the score is beautifully synthetic, and works with visuals to create stunning, dreamlike sequences of wonder and terror. Thematically, the film relies on motifs and metaphors, and the shot composition puts the film’s emphasis on symbols, much more than story.
The story is strong though, presenting a nasty look at being successful, and commenting on the perception and reality of beauty. The story does take a dive from the deep end by the end, but Elle Fanning gives a beautiful performance that distracts from the film’s grotesque nature. It’s a stunning spectacle, one that will beg for discussion and analysis, and definitivley one of the most screwed up movies in recent memory. Grade: -A