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
Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, and Abbey Lee had to endure a lot of fake movie blood during production, even having to taste a portion of it. The crew made it taste like syrup, in order to make it more pleasing for the performers. See more »
When Dean comes to see Jesse at the motel and hands her the roses, Jesse reaches out and grabs them with her left hand but when she faints, the roses appear in her right hand. See more »
AWFUL! Avoid this horrible and repulsive style-exercise
So, I wanted to watch The Neon Demon, like many other people, because I absolutely love Drive, director Nicolas Winding Refn's acclaimed predecessor. It's one of my favourite movies of the recent years and I have watched it many, many times now. I am not going to watch The Neon Demon again. Ever. In fact, I'm trying to wash some of its images out of my mind.
At the beginning, it seems to bear a lot of similarities with Drive. Like the Driver, our heroine is pretty tight-lipped, we don't know much about her past and she has a unique talent, in which she surpasses anyone else. At least, she is given a name: Jesse. We met her shortly after her arrival in LA, where she desires to start a model career. At first, everything looks very promising. She gets a couple of gigs and looks to be the rising star of LA's catwalks. But her success evokes the envy of her competition. And these model- bitches certainly don't hold back, when it comes to fighting their territory.
These could have been an interesting plot, if Nicolas Winding Refn had any interest in executing such a thing. But none of the actions of the characters seem to mean anything. I get it, that this is supposed to be very stylized and surreal. But that doesn't mean, that it has to be boring. So many scenes go on and on and on without having any impact for the rest of the movie. Well, a movie can be boring. I mean, this is a problem, but it happens. The problems with The Neon Demon begin, when it starts to counter its own dullness with crudity. In the second half, the movie becomes not only repulsive. It insults the intelligence of the audience.
What is it, that NWR wants to accomplish with this style-exercise? Is it a commentary about our own superficial society? Does he criticize, how the fashion industry and we as consumers objectify women? Does it show, how close the beauty and the ugly are? These could be interesting questions, if the movie would make any attempt to answer them. But it doesn't. Instead, it falls victim to its own subject. There is no depth in scenes of rape, necrophilia, pedophilia and what other distasteful obscenities occur in this movie. You have to give them at least some context. The only thing, that is absolutely clear to me: The way, NWR treats his female characters, is plain awful and disrespectful. They are just dehumanized, exchangeable parts in a misguided art installation.
In short, after a promising opening, The Neon Demon falls apart very quickly and ends up being a cheap exercise in meaningless provocation and obscenity. It's one of the worst films I have ever seen. Avoid!
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