The Neon Demon is like a girl who comes into your dream every night. You do not know who she is, what her story is, what she likes, who she hates, or what lies deep inside her. But one thing, or the only thing you know, is that she is beautiful. She is the single greatest beauty you have ever seen. She might be a figment of your imagination, but that does not matter. What only matters is her beauty, and beauty is everything.

How does it feel to be beautiful? What exactly goes on inside the skull of a truly beautiful person? Have you ever wondered about that? You probably have or have not, but you will never get to experience that feeling of being beautiful; because most of us are ugly from inside and outside. The Neon Demon is that feeling of being beautiful that you never feel.

Nicolas Winding Refn, in my opinion, is more of a sorcerer than a filmmaker. What he weaves on the screen is more magic and cinema. The Neon Demon solidifies that opinion of mine further. It is exactly how an NWR film should be, how you expect it to be, but still completely unique and very different from the director’s earlier works. It is a piece of art in the form of a motion picture, which you can either love from the bottom of your heart or completely hate by writing it off as a pseudo-intellectual gimmick. There is no middle ground.

In the dreamy, purple, pink, and red color-soaked, seductive city of Los Angeles, Jessie is an aspiring model who has just come into the town. Ruby, a makeup artist, befriends her and takes her to a party one night where she meets two other established models. Very soon, though, Jessie starts to climb up the ladder of showbiz, and those two starts to fall down, and a wave of jealousy and anger cripples them. This is the basic premise upon which Refn builds up the film. But the story here is hardly something that matters.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

What really matters is the cinematography and also the background score. Let’s talk about the cinematography first. I have not seen a more beautiful film than this one in the current year. Every frame, by which I mean every single those, even the ones which last for a few seconds only, is so hauntingly beautiful that you can’t take your eyes off them. They are even distracting and make it troublesome to follow the story; if you want to go that way. Cinematographer Natasha Braier deserves a huge round and applause for this absolutely terrific piece of work. The eerie, chilly, icy-cold background music by Cliff Martinez compliments the cinematography perfectly by creating a disturbingly creepy, very ideal atmosphere for Refn to make a film that relies more on an audio-visual storytelling style than dialogue and screenplay. And for the most part, it actually works. Though the dialogues, even though there are not exactly many of those given the length of the film (it’s nearly two hours long, for the record), are smartly written, edgy, and very quotable.

As far as the performance goes, Elle Fanning as Jesse is one of the perfect castings done in recent times. Fanning, although not quite known for her acting abilities, is brilliant here and shows real promise for the future if the right opportunity comes on her way. The rest of the cast, consisting of popular names like Christina Hendricks and Keanu Reeves in insignificant roles, does a fine job playing along with Fanning. The real star of the show, however, is the makeup artist which Jena Malone plays. In what can be called her career-best performance yet, a performance where she finally manages to do something worth talking about, getting out of the shadow of a past called Donnie Darko; she is particularly terrific here, especially in the sensational scene where || SPOILER ALERT || she is having sex with the corpse of a woman.

The Neon Demon, in the end, stands as one unique piece of work which can make people like David Lynch and Terrence Malik proud of Refn, which can either be loved or hated, which completely depends on how you view it.



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