4 days to go: The Neon Demon (April, 4)

I reached The Neon Demon mostly because of Joe, who assured me it was unmissable. We both share the same admiration for Nicolas Winding Refn in a different way. For me, Refn is most of all Drive. Joe is more attuned to TND and Only God Forgives and Bronson. Whatever the reasons,  I think we can understand Refn's take on violence: never gratuitous, always a bulls eye view about the different forms that populate the world. 

I was uncertain about explicit here the genre of this movie. I didn't want to spoil it - but I realized that not anybody is so lalaland as me to not read about its genre before watching a move.The  thing is, I was unaware it was classified as horror, so I approached it as I would any other Refn's production: with great expectations, even if a bit cautious, expecting nothing but a punch in the stomach and stunning cinematography. 

Despite being a bit wary of genres,  I know they make a big difference sometimes in our previews regarding a movie. Expectations are a big part of being a viewer business, we shouldn't take it lightly. What I was expecting should happen was shattered at the first 30 minutes of TND, when I realized I was in front of something very particular - gruesomely particular. 

Said that, though, I must add that it wouldn't have mattered otherwise - even if horror is perfect for this. It could be just classified as an action, mystery, drama - whatever. Refn's views about the dog literally eat dog fashion world in LA is so good, so real, so scathing that it goes beyond any genre. As I've said, horror is very fit for it - that one is a scary, terrifying, dreadful, perverse world. The choice of genre allowed very graphic scenes and stunning takes - not that Refn holds himself on the matter ever. 

I've read on imdb a comment stating how to say that this movie is not for everyone is the understatement of the year. Not for nothing the ratings are low, even if it is a superb movie. Some views stated also how it is boring and slow and things like that. I couldn't take my eyes from it, the pace is tremendously good, the suspense is overwhelming sometimes, as it should be. And it is one of the most linear narratives Refn presented us. 

And the cast? Wow, nothing less than that. Elle Fanning and Jena Malone are incredible, specially the last one, who, for me, reached another level in her career with Ruby - and I've written it before knowing the necrophilia scene was so extreme because of her (improvising such a thing, admirable, to say the least). She is usually very intense in everything she does, it is just a matter of getting the right opportunity - one that Refn has provided  to her with Excellency. The morgue scene is something from other world, and only Refn, with the right actress, could shoot it in a legitm and relevant and fierce and beautifully scary way. For me, one of the most emblematic scenes in the whole story of movies. Keannu Reeves, even with just a few scenes and lines, is terrifyingly good, we don't have to see his character to know what he is capable of. Every performance in here is a bullet direct to the gut. 

The Neon Demon, unbearable for some, outstanding for other, is without a doubt a masterpiece, a well refined engine of a world that should stay only in fiction, but is increasingly dreadful in reality. The many possibilities of violence and abuse are implicit in each character, in each take, throwing us to a much more horrifying world than the one in the screen. 

Thank you, dear Joe, for insisting on this. F* wow. 

The Neon Deamon. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena
Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee. Writers: Nicholas Winding Refn et al. USA/
Denmark/France, 2016, Dolby Digital/Datasat/SDDS, Color, 118 min. 


  1. Yes! I love that you love this as well. So good.
    You said it all. I really think this story depicts the true side of our human nature, of the evil in all of us and the extreme lengths to which we can go when driven by pure desire and ego. It's visceral, it's raw and damn right it's scary. It's quite a powerful message that comes across, regarding the depths of our twisted nature as social beings.
    I also agree when you say it's presented in a fluent narrative and in precise pace, I think the story develops in a very smart and dynamic manner. Once again, I'm obsessed with the use of colors and how they're intertwined with the mood of each scene and becomes one with the story. I love the cinematography in this film more than in any other of NWR's movies – and they're always stellar, I might add. But the camera moves and lighting compositions in every shot are really thought out and they seamlessly integrate the narrative, creating this lavishing, astonishing mise-en-scène that is a true feast to the eyes. That scene when Jesse witnesses the motel manager going into the room next door is a great example of how incredible the cinematography is in this film.
    We talked about the morgue scene, and yes, I believe that to be one of the weirdest and most beautifully excruciating scenes I've ever seen, it's so off-putting yet irresistible to watch at the same time. I've so much respect and admiration for Jena Malone after that scene. But, as you said, the whole cast is amazing. The guy who plays the fashion designer is macabre and charming all in one. Keanu Reeves' character is danger personified. The two girl models who are both threatened by and obsessed with Jesse also did an amazing job. That creepy photographer?! Ugh, he gives me chills to this day. And Elle Fanning had a difficult job in playing a central character to whom everyone is attracted, to a sick degree.
    Apart from the morgue scene (and those last 20 minutes), one of the most memorable moments for me was the runway show. Firstly, the production design for that scene is impeccably smart – a fully dark runway with a triangle-shaped light source at the end, moreover the symbolism in the colors at the moment when Jesse transitions under the spotlights and adoration. That was brilliant filmmaking, and a visually stunning scene.
    Overall, this is my favorite NWR movie, it's too much and just enough, it's beautiful and ugly, it's sexy and gruesome, horrific and terrific! It's a master piece and it shocks you at the start and at the end. And it delivers all you expect and much more.
    Loved your review! Plus, you ended up watching a horror film by yourself. Haha good on ya!

    [ j ]

  2. So much beauty in your love for movies! It is such that you can write about this film with so much care, with a attentive eye for details and for what make this Refn's production a masterpiece. Your views on it are a work of art by itself <3

    Thanks for sharing, dear Joe!

    (I haven't noticed that! I really saw a horror movie by myself... without knowing it, of course hehe).

    1. heheh thanks for your notes, they mean a lot to me.

      and yes, you did watch a horror movie by yourself. Next you should watch Get out. O M G. Such a good film!

      [ j ]