The Neon Demon
Danish director, Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest film, The Neon Demon, is a dazzling visual masterwork, but that’s the extent of its excellence. Here, Refn - who gained international attention in 2011 with his acclaimed neo-noir crime thriller, Drive - shines glittering lights onto the dark side of the modelling industry.
Despite weak effort to shoehorn depth into the barely-there plot, the narrative remains ultimately lightweight. Does that mean the film isn’t worth watching? Not necessarily.
I never cared to visit LA until I saw how Refn framed the ombre sky of a California sunset. I’d become disenchanted with the fashion world until I discovered it anew through his bizarre and twisted lens. The Neon Demon showcases the beautiful cinematography audiences have come to expect from Refn’s work, and that alone makes it worth consideration.
The story, however, is all too familiar: 16 year old Jessie (Elle Fanning) heads to LA with aspirations of becoming a model. Higher-ups in the fashion industry are immediately taken with her youth, her beauty, and that undefinable charisma that draws all eyes to her. But as Jessie’s career blossoms, she begins to discover the ways in which the modelling world preys on pretty young girls.
There’s a twist to it, of course, but it’s too forced, and arrives too far into the film’s dragging 1 hour and 58 minute runtime to salvage the tired story.