While it was widely considered to be one of the weakest Palme d'Or contenders, "The Neon Demon" was one of films that most intrigued me when reading about Cannes. The film had mixed responses, with most people falling into "Love", "Hate", or "What the heck did I just watch?". I ended up falling into the "Love" category, however this film is definitely not for everyone.
This film is the epitome of the phrase "style over substance". As is usual with Refn, this film is an extremely artistic, stylistic piece that defies genre norms. As opposed to having a dialogue-driven storyline, Refn aims to be more metaphorical with the film, and successfully so. Regardless, the film does have a story, unlike many of the reviews that I have read claim. Refn's visual storytelling is brilliant in this film, as he uses vivid imagery in order to illustrate his points. While other people may have seen the five minute long scene featuring a series of bright neon lights and mirror images as bizarre surrealist nonsense, I found it to be a metaphor for arrogance and the danger of fame. Refn truly uses the color palette and cinematography to develop the characters and their story. I actually felt drawn into the world of the film, and I thought that the protagonist of Jesse was really well-written, allowing the audience to relate to this character. Elle Fanning's performance was truly phenomenal. She developed the character very well, showing a change in emotion and maturity in her acting as the character develops. The movie moves along at a slow pace, however that actually helped the film build suspense and anticipation. From the moment when the title credits start rolling, Refn expertly builds this suspense until the climax. The film's supernatural ambiguity was really brilliant and well-thought-out on the part of Refn, helping the mysterious elements of the film keep me guessing until the end.
The cinematography of this film was extremely impressive. The shots were beautiful and fluid, also serving to help developing the meaning of the scene. The electronic score was also unsettling and intriguing, adding to the atmosphere of the film. Some of the directorial choices are a bit excessive in parts, such as a two minute long shower scene that has justification for its existence, but no reason for its extension.
So overall, I ended up really liking "The Neon Demon". It had extremely intriguing premise and some extremely thoughtful metaphors. In fact, while planning this review, I had planned to give the film a slightly lower grade, however in reflecting on the film, I realized that I found it to be far more profound than I had initially thought. It is not a film for everyone, as it can be confusing and disturbing, however I understood the metaphors that the writer/director was aiming for.
The Neon Demon
Big Tuna's Rating: A
How Did I Watch It?: In theaters.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Probably.
I am a huge movie fan that wants to tell people about my very varying taste and opinion of film.