The sixteen year-old aspiring model Jesse arrives in Los Angeles expecting to be a successful model. The aspirant photographer Dean takes photos for her portfolio and dates her. Jesse befriends the lesbian makeup artist Ruby and then the envious models Gigi and Sarah in a party. Meanwhile the agency considers Jesse beautiful with a "thing" that makes her different and she is sent to the professional photographer Jack. Jesse attracts he attention of the industry and has a successful beginning of career. But Ruby, Gigi and Sarah are capable to do anything to get her "thing". Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
One of the film's most striking features is its use of color. In an interview, Director Nicolas Winding Refn stated that he is in fact color blind, and can only perceive contrast and primary colors. See more »
When Jessie kisses herself in the mirror during her modeling scene, the mirror on her right is already stained with lipstick before she touches it with her lips, in the next shot as she goes to kiss the mirror on her left the lipstick stains on the right are suddenly gone. See more »
True beauty is the highest currency we have. Without it, she would be nothing.
I think you're wrong.
I said, I think you're wrong.
So are you gonna tell me that it's what's inside that counts?
Yeah, that's exactly what I think.
Well I think, that if she wasn't beautiful... you wouldn't have even stopped to look.
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Nicolas Winding-Refn is a director who defies all analysis. Most considered him a surefire "Commercial Success" following on from his exceptional adaptation, Drive back in 2011. However, against all odds Winding-Refn went darker, more subversive and all together more polarising with his 2013 release Only God Forgives.
The Neon Demon is sure to be equally divisive. I was lucky enough to attend the red carpet premiere of the film in Cannes and was personally blown away by it's unique style & vision. It's long slider shots demand attention and draw attention to every minute detail on offer. It's use of mirrors encourages the viewer to look beyond the "real" world and examine what lies on the other side.
Obviously, it goes without saying that this film looks amazing. If nothing else, most of Winding-Refn's supporters or critiques will admit that his films aesthetics are always incredible. However, despite the muted dialogues and slow pacing, the film gripped me for its full 110 minute run time. This was because, although the movie is a "horror", it's so much more. It's an examination of the human obsession with beauty.
Elle Fanning does a remarkable turn as Jesse - a young runaway, trying to make it big in Los Angeles. Her beauty is so powerful that things begin to work to her favour almost immediately on her arrival. More over than that, her beauty seems to encapsulate and draw in those around her, while repelling her peers who scathe her. Her natural beauty is something that all the plastic surgery in LA can't generate.
Jena Malone steals the film as Ruby - a make up artist who befriends Jesse as soon as she arrives in the town. She also introduces Jesse to the vacuous and vindictive pair of models played by Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee. If you haven't guessed already this is a film with a real focus on females. Although there are a handful of male characters (Dexters Desmon Harrington does an incredible turn as a high power fashion photographer), the focus here is all feminine. Even down to the decision to bring in a female DOP to shoot the film.
There are too many twists and turns to get into here, but all I can say is that this could be Winding-Refn's most powerful movie to date. It's an analysis on the human condition and our obsession with natural beauty. It claws and scratches at our preconceptions and breaks us down, revealing the gooey centre; what makes us tick. Stellar performances, amazing visuals, a banging score and a unique storyline will cement this as a cult classic - of this I am sure.
I cannot wait for the theatrical release if only to have more time to soak in the films dreamy visuals, take in more of the films subtexts and once again be blown away by the force of nature that is NWR.
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