Christ, where do I start? First of all, this has to be one of the strangest, jaw-dropping, eye watering, sickening, shocking but beautiful at the same time. There can only be one director that can possible cram all these things into one film and that is Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn. One of my favourite modern filmmakers still isn’t well known around the world, but his films cause big discussion especially with his last film Only God Forgives. The majority of people don’t understand or enjoy the minimal dialogue that is in his films and the excessive and sickening violence that are in his films. His films experience walk outs and boo’s from the Cannes crowd, especially with his latest effort The Neon Demon. Personally, I’m a big fan of his work. I think he is supremely talented and is one of the best technical directors out there right now. He has an insanely good eye for an attractive shot and to get a crowd of people talking about his films. The Neon Demon, starring Elle Fanning follows her character Jesse, a young aspiring model that moves to LA to launch her modelling career. At the young age of 16, she is illegally signed up to an agency and thrown into the limelight of modelling.
Believe me when I say it, that is what the film is about, but there is so much more that I cannot explain or describe. Nicolas Winding Refn really pushes the boat out on this picture to be remembered. From the get go, I can completely understand why people would absolutely trash this movie but I have to say, I enjoyed every single minute of it. Even if during the last 40 minutes I was looking at the screen in horror and wanting to puke, I see that as a great reaction to something that truly disturbed me. It takes a lot for me to get freaked out but what I was seeing on screen was nothing that I had ever seen on a cinema screen before, and that’s a guarantee! Refn continues his trend of excessive violence, stylish filmmaking and brilliant storytelling. This time though, he has upped the ante!
I questioned the choice of such a young actor in the lead, but by god does Elle Fanning surpass anything that I thought of her. The 18 year old actress really comes a long way from her child acting days as she shows how versatile she really can be. I honestly can say that I think this is by far and away the best female performance this year and I think it will be hard to beat. Her sass, attitude, charisma, beauty and gazy stare all become one and create this fascinating character Jesse that is absolutely broken into pieces, but somehow is still walking. She manages to pull off what a veteran actress would really struggle to achieve. For me, Elle Fanning is the BEST thing about this movie. Maybe she is the only good thing about the whole film, but her incredible performance helps lift the whole film and give it some life.
It’s difficult to review this because there is so much that happens in this film that I cannot talk about. It’s a film that you just have to see for yourself so you can understand why I can’t talk in depth about it. I can only compare this to The Human Centipede in terms that I can’t describe anything without giving away the gory and disgusting details. After the film finished, it took time to digest and take in what exactly happened on screen. After time, it made me realise how much of a good movie it is. The supporting performances all round were adequate, but with Elle Fanning’s outstanding turn as Jesse, it’s enough to carry everyone else. It’s not Refn’s best movie in recent times, but it’s another interesting and original film to add to his impressive filmography. 4 out of 5 stars.