When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
ActorsStarring: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Alessandro Nivola, Desmond Harrington, Charles Baker, Jamie Clayton, Rebecca Dayan, Taylor Marie Hill, Stacey Danger, Vanessa Martinez, Cody Renee Cameron
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, I enjoyed his 2011 movie ‘Drive’. Sure some of the slow scenes and long pauses and deep and meaningful looks between Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan gave it a hint of pretentiousness at times, but that was easily outweighed by the stylisation, imagery and soundtrack. So Refn must have figured he could take those qualities up a notch or two when he wrote and directed the Neon Demon.
It is an ueber-stylised movie from the get-go, and the long pauses are taken to the next level too. I think the actors were instructed to count to at least 5 before responding to any line of dialogue. Unfortunately long pauses don’t magically make everything deep and meaningful. There are only a handful of characters in this film, yet all of them remain as flat as a pancake. The dialogue itself is clunky to begin with, and the long pauses just make you reflect on it rather than glance over it; and this really is not a movie you should be reflecting on. It is goodlooking but plainly pretentious drivel, and instead of successfully hiding its shallowness under a thick layer of its sexy veneer, it fails miserably as a meaningful critique of the fashion industry and its narcisism.
The plot itself then… well it starts out with some intriguing elements, but before long it gets a bit tedious; then we move on to more and more far fetched ‘developments’, building up to what certainly must be one of the most ludricous finales I have seen in a long time. Not clever, not sexy, not even shocking, just so laughable you just roll your eyes and hope that Refn never writes a screenplay again. Ever.
Best avoided. Two stars for the pretty pictures.