Director Nicolas Winding Refn‘s films have always been well received at Cannes Festival, so The Neon Demon was no exception in the 2016 ceremony. In particular, 16 years old Elle Fanning was still in high school while filming this film. Fanning got lots of press for this film, overshadowing older sister, Dakota Fanning, who has been taking on maturer roles.
This film was a faux exposé of the fashion industry that, stereotypically, lured young naïve small town girls into the somber demonic back-stabbing world of modelling. Despite the shinny lacquered background and vast open space in an empty brightly lighted warehouse, each girl was afraid to be the next merciless victim. Booking agents had no problem with the supply of models, designers had no problem eliminating mediocracy, girls have no problem killing their way to the runway. This was the back story of Winding Refn’s visually stimulating and scintillating retro 80s film.
Jesse (Elle Fanning) comes to L.A. and lives in a seedy motel. She doesn’t talk much about her family or the lack there of. Hank (Keanu Reeves), the motel manager, is a strange fellow that obviously is hiding something in his office. How management skill is to squeeze money out of his tenants. No surprise the motel is rundown, and somehow it even attracts a mountain lion that menaces Jesse’s room.
Jesse’s fresh face lands her a modelling contract, and she be-friends a make-up artist, Ruby(Jena Malone), who always have her predatory eyes on Jesse. (Sarah) Abbey Lee is surgically enhanced, submitted to industry’s norm, in order to keep her bookings. But Jesse wins over, represented by top-notch agent, photoed by famous photographer, dressed by the most creative designer. In a short time, Jesse becomes the “IT” girl closes a fashion show with the designer. She is in the limelight, the neon light, and a periscope.
The dialogues in this film were horrible. If this were made a silent movie, no one would have missed much. The earth shattering last 10 minutes will devour your visual senses, and at the same time, it will starve you with some fluffed up air(no pun intended) asking: what is new?