Elle Fanning is starting to shine in a lead role where she plays a young model who is trying to make it big in the flashy world of modeling where jealousy starts to take hold, and things start happening to the point where I felt as if I was watching an episode of ‘Tales From the Crypt’. The ending will shock you to the point where you’re not sure how to feel or what you’ve just watched, but it’s really hard not to admire the beauty that shows throughout this film.
Nicolas Winding Refn has made an artistically beautiful film that would make Dario Argento proud with amazing imagery, subtle lighting, and performances that make you emotionally tied to Fanning. Fanning is a presence to be seen and it shows you that she has matured into a beautiful young woman. She hasn’t had too many chances to shine in most of the films she’s been in, but in ‘The Neon Demon’, she gives it her all. I have never seen a performance quite like Fanning’s. She delves into a very tough role to take for a young woman like herself, but she takes it with a sense of calm and sternness while also being forceful when she needs to be.
She takes on the role of 16-year-old Jesse, who is not sure of where her life is going; her parents have passed away, she lives in a motel run by a total sleaze named Hank (Keanu Reeves’ best performance I’ve seen yet.), and her boyfriend (Karl Glusman) photographs her sessions every now and then. One day, she sees an opportunity to broaden her horizons in a modeling agency where she signs up with a false age, as ordered by her agent. (Christina Hendricks) It is also where she meets her future friend named Ruby (Jena Malone), and a couple of similar-looking blondes named Gigi (Bella Heatchcoate) and Sarah (Abbey Lee), who desperately want to make the spotlight.
‘The Neon Demon’ wants to be a commentary on the modeling industry, but we don’t get as much of that, (despite an amazing monologue spoken by Jessie during a beautifully shot scene in a pool.) instead we focus on what Refn can do behind the camera with his certain visual style that makes him one of the most visually unique directors since Wes Anderson and Tim Burton. At times, the film doesn’t make sense with some elements created for shock value to show how far it can go. But to be honest, it truly is a wonder.
The score is very similar to John Carpenter and Disasterpeace (‘It Follows’) and will end up sticking with me for the rest of my days for its beautiful orchestration and amazing theme that sticks throughout its running time. At times, ‘The Neon Demon’ gets a little tough to watch, but there’s just enough beauty to keep you engaged until the end credits are over. I am amazed, shocked, and in awe for the wonder of ‘The Neon Demon’. Not everyone is going to find this movie to be easily digested, but for the entire stay, your eyes will be amazed.