The Neon Demon, Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest masterpiece, has been the victim of ample scrutiny and the judging eye of an illiterate and uncivilized movie going audience for the past couple of months since it’s release on June 24th. Half the people are screaming ” yay!” while the other half are screaming “wtf did I just watch!?” I personally am jizzing in my pants over the quiet, monotone dialogue, powerful writing, and incredible imagery/lighting. Refn really stepped up the artsy factor for The Neon Demon to even surpass his Mona Lisa of an action film, Drive (2011), starring the one and only Ryan Gosling.
So before we get into why this film has such mixed reviews and my personal (and correct) opinions on how such a fine piece of art is being trampled by half of its audience, let’s talk about the plot. Jesse (Elle Fanning), an aspiring model/16 year-old runaway, moves to Los Angeles only for her youth and vitality to be consumed and devoured by a group of beauty starved women who will do whatever it takes to get what she has. IMDB has done a nice job with the description but this film is so much more than a plot line. Basically, Jesse is an up-and-coming model who is booking a bunch of highly sought after photographers solely based on her sheer beauty. The women that surround her are all equally obsessed with her effortless gorg-factor and success and will stop at nothing to be included in her progress and hold influence over the model. As her success builds, so does her conceit and that’s why this film is more of a cult classic cautionary tale more so than a straight up horror film. The horrific aspects of the film are how far the women will go to obtain Jesse’s beauty and youth (that and a couple of more horror-ey scenes throughout). The moral of the story seems to be don’t trust LA bitches.
So why does it have mixed reviews? Because people are stupid. The average movie goer isn’t going to see a Refn film or a Lars Von Trier movie or something like Under The Skin (2013) and immediately be blown away. Yes, maybe they’ll make a half propelled comment about how the cinematography was amazing but that’s their way of saying she has a really great personality. Unfortunately, the majority of the theatrical movie audience are under-educated blue collars and their equally misinformed and unartistic tweens and that’s why we have more Paul Blart: Mall Cop‘s than Refn films.
This movie, however, has even seen the backhand of a lot of critics (who again, represent the uneducated masses) saying that it has undeveloped characters and a weak plot line which I completely disagree with. Just because character development isn’t shoved down your throat via shitty flashbacks and overt exposition does not mean it is not present. You get what little back story you need from Jesse’s character to understand her decisions and prompt her actions. She turns from a shy, quiet, weak little girl into a fabulous, studded, soft but powerfully spoken Neon Demon. She let’s the negativity and conceit of the Hollywood life really affect who she is deep down as a person and you lose the innocent, virginal, country girl to a cocky and heartless, glammed up version of herself. It’s quite a horrific progression and anybody who has lived in the city of angels can attest to how true to form it really is. As for plot line, I don’t understand those who say it is lazy and weak. It really isn’t. It’s amazing. Three almost has-beens targeting the new kid on the block because she’s more successful than any of them could ever hope to be? Sounds pretty relevant to LA and the American dream of being constantly adored. There’s literally a part in the movie where Jesse’s pseudo statutory boyfriend is asking her if she really wants to be like the women she’s surrounding herself with and she retorts with “I don’t want to be any of them…they want to be me.” Its little one liners like this that really open up Jesse’s character and lend to the development.
All I can say is WATCH THIS FUCKING MOVIE. It is truly a masterful work of art and since Refn directed you can bet your ass there will be long shots and face fucking lighting throughout which both lend to the not so subtle psychosis of the film. Everything from the costume design, to the downplayed acting, to the fantastic neon lighting, to the sets, to the cast (which includes not only Fanning but Jena Malone and Keanu Reeves) to everything in between is utterly perfect if you’re into artsy, idkwtfisgoingon type of movies. If you’re not a fan of Drive, or Antichrist, or Under The Skin, or Melancholia then I will venture to guess you’re one of the uneducated masses I spoke of earlier and you should probably avoid this film because it’s sheer awesomeness will fly way over your little head. But if you’re trying to expand your mind and want to watch an artistic venture into the brain of a truly visionary storyteller, then watch The Neon Demon and thank me later.
IMDB: 7/10 (11,506 votes)
Rotten Tomatoes: 🍅51% (⬅these are the idiotic critics I’m talking about) 🍿65%
DEAD🐶PUPPY: 5 beauty starved has-beens/5