Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Neon Demon (2016)

The Neon Demon (2016): written by Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, and Polly Stenham; directed by Nicolas Winding Refn; starring Elle Fanning (Jesse), Karl Glusman (Dean), Jena Malone (Ruby), Bella Heathcote (Gigi), Abbey Lee (Sarah), and Keanu Reeves (Hank): Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn works in the lurid pulp mode of Only God Forgives here, and not in the cooler style of his break-out film, Drive

The subject matter combined with the carefully composed, static shots and cool synth score suggest late-career Stanley Kubrick directing a very special episode of Melrose Place. The plot manages to surprise. The characters are barely characters, but as this is a horror movie centered on the cosmic terror of the modelling industry, one expects a keen devotion to surface. And a horror movie it is, not so much slowly building as suddenly exploding in the last half hour. 

The men are peripheral to the action, while the women take center stage. Elle Fanning performs beautifully as the enigmatic new model at the heart of the story, while Jena Malone and Abbey Lee embody different, dark aspects of the modelling industry. Not for the squeamish. Recommended.

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