The Neon Demon. Oh boy, where to even start? Well, for starters, it’s one of the best films of last year (it’s included in my top 10 list, which you can check out right here), and it’s easily director Nicolas Winding Refn’s second best film, right behind the modern masterpiece Drive. It’s also the closest we will ever get to a modern David Lynch film. With subtle hints to such classics like Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway, this is through and through a Lynch-inspired scatterbrain story. Coated in bright neo-noir lights and stuck in a complete darkness, The Neon Demon tells the surreal story of sixteen year old Jesse (Elle Fanning), who runs off to LA by herself to become an aspiring model. After being hired by a modeling agency, she begins to befriend three other models in the agency, Ruby (Jena Malone), Gigi (Bella Heathcote), and Sarah (Abbey Lee). As time goes on and they begin to work together, the other three models start to become increasingly jealous of Jesse as she is starting to be painted as the hallmark model. From here, The Neon Demon takes you to places that are together horrifying and beautiful, and creates a trance-like atmosphere that draws you in even deeper.
Bried in the 2016 summer season, The Neon Demon received little to no attention, and that’s unfortunate. Nicolas Winding Refn really crafted something brilliant with Neon Demon. Spinning a twisted fairy tale into a world full of perverted photographers, jealous, sick models, and the never ending glow of neon signs that paint the LA backdrop. Throw in a bit of surrealism, and you have Refn’s best film since Drive, and when I say surrealism, I mean the absolute most Lynch style surrealism. Thrown into the film in bits, as if scattering itself sparingly, the surreal moments are beautifully weird, and really add a new complex layer into this already super complex story. Plus, its a complete head trip to watch these sequences play out, and that’s always fun to experience! With these parts added onto an already amazing script and subdued yet always good performances, The Neon Demon becomes one of the most overlooked masterpieces of last year. If you love your surrealism shaken with a hint of Lynch, a story that constantly makes you questioning the characters motives, an absolutely sick trance soundtrack backed by an ugly neon world surrounding it, and a touch of some brutal violence, than The Neon Demon is the film for you!
The Neon Demon
dir. Nicolas Winding Refn
Screens Tuesday, 2/28 @ Bright Lights Emerson