I have said this once before, and I will say it again. Just because something or someone is pretty doesn’t mean that you should strive to be like or touch that beautiful thing. The masterful storyteller, Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives) reinvents conventional storytelling once again, creating a newborn fairy tale that could only come from his sick twisted dark fantasy. The Neon Demon centers around a 16-year-old girl who moves to LA pursuing a career in modeling, whose beauty and youth indulge her into a world of hurt because of the people she is surrounded by in the fashion modeling industry. Discovering that her peers are jealous vampiric murderers, Jesse (Fanning), realizes that she is the biggest monster of them all: The Neon Demon.
NWR makes films for himself and himself only; not for you. He is the epitome of what a punk rock filmmaker is, raw, bold, and rebellious. I want to make movies like the way does, in fact, I am making one right now. NWR tells stories by composing striking images that he creates from his head. Great color contrasts, opposing images, futuristic scores, and creative bubble bursts that bend the minds of his biggest fans in all of his films. He is a director that really likes to slap you in the face with real “what the f***” moments that you will never see coming.
Most of his films have themes of masculinity, but what makes The Neon Demon special is how he goes away from what he does best by emasculating his own work, going the opposite direction emphasizing feminism, beauty, and the power that women have. The Neon Demon is NWR’s sick, dark and twisted fantasy of what it would be like to be the most lusted, desired, and high in demand woman in the world. Something that he is not. This film is bold, and he goes where no filmmaker tries to go because storytellers spin tales of what they know versus what they ought or want to know. What does NWR teach us about beauty? Well, it is simple, beauty is dangerous.
This film is an abrasive bashing attack on beauty. If you are lusting for a dominant performance from a female lead in a movie like nothing you have seen before, Elle Fanning drives this film from beginning to end, making you gasp for air for five minutes at a time convincing you that beauty is only a thing created in our heads. Beauty is the eye of the beholder, and NWR quickly assures us that Jesse is the most beautiful woman to ever grace our presence since mighty Aphrodite. Even though Jesse is obviously not the “hottest” model in the film, NWR explains to us that she has something that no other models have and that is the natural purifying danger that we all fear because very few people contain that exterior quality. She is not perfect on the outside like her rivals are, and those imperfections make her unique and are the reason why everyone lusts for her in the story.
Jesse is the “Neon Demon,” a monster that glows so bright that when she walks into a room, she brings light to the world that used to be filled with darkness. It is a power that she doesn’t understand, but once she does, it consumes her and changes her to understand that narcissism is a good thing because this film teaches us that narcissism is about the complete acceptance of one’s self and capabilities. Not about how pretty you are.
“The Zos Knows”
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