Ricky's Film Reviews

Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases

The Neon Demon

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When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

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Cast

Elle Fanning – Jesse

Jena Malone – Ruby

Karl Glusman – Dean

Bella Heathcote – Gigi

Abbey Lee – Sarah

Keanue Reeves – Hank

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The Good:

The Neon Demon contains some bloody WEIRD scenes, really weird.
But it does so by using two main elements: music and graphics. From an artistic point of view, this movie is fantastic at creating moods and atmospheres – with the shortest piece of music or the most psychadelic colours.
This is one of those movies where a character doesn’t have to do a lot in order to express his or her feelings (think Ryan Gosling in Only God Forgives). In fact, 80% of Fanning’s screen time sees her stood staring at something with various facial expressions. The scene where Jesse takes part in a live show as a model is bizarre; everything seems to disappear and all she can see are colourful shapes. Screen switches to black. Switches to bright pink. Switches to black. Switches to yellow. I honestly couldn’t decipher the meaning behind such artistic cinema, but it certainly created an impact.

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Some of the colours and visuals in The Neon Demon were almost hypnotic – an element I enjoyed highly as I sat staring at the screen wondering what would come next.

The cast are nothing short of fantastic. Malone in particular adds an air of mystery as Ruby, her starey facial expressions and slowly growing affection for Jesse are deliciously strange. I am unfamiliar with the actress but at first glance she had me engaged with her performance. Nice work.

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The set works a treat. Much of the movie takes place on the floor of modelling studios, so it’s void but effective. Less really is more as the cast, in some scenes, take charge and create an impact just by standing there on a blank canvas (empty set), the smallest of facial expressions instantly setting the mood.
An example of this is near the end when two of the female models take part in a photo shoot beside a swimming pool. This scene is instantly whipped into a sinister mood when one of the girls reveals a gruesome, terrifying secret. After she does this, she performs an act of total madness (I felt my mouth drop open), whilst the other girl remains completely emotionless and stony-eyed as though nothing is happening.
The secret, and in fact what the girl does subsequently are shocking – viewers with a weak stomach beware!

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The Bad:

I read in a synopsis of The Neon Demon that young Jesse suffers exploitation. Unless I was missing something, there was hardly any of this going on. The girl moves to Los Angeles, signs up to a modelling agency, and attends photo shoots knowing full well the type of career she has chosen to pursue. The only thing exploitative was a scene in which a photographer (Harrington) asks Jesse to remove her clothing – and then he rubs paint across her chest (which she seemed to be enjoying anyway).

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The synopsis also dropped the word ‘macabre’. And, the cinema rating ident before movie began flashed up with an 18 rating.
I can honestly say that until the last fifteen to twenty minutes, The Neon Demon contained nothing that would warrant an 18 rating. Also, the final scene is when macabre activity kicks off (as mentioned above), the rest of the movie is simply a young girl stood on stage staring into the distance, hanging out in her hotel room, or exchanging dialogue full of pauses in dressing rooms.
I dislike it when a movie is described as something – but turns out (bad) different. Points lost here.

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The Neon Demon is fucking strange. Twisted. Artistic. Colourful but sickening. BUT -overall it’s just shit.
I have no doubt fans of more arty movies will lap it up, but if you’re the opposite – and you sit down with a nice cup of tea expecting to be entertained nicely for the next 116 minutes..

..then I’d stick something else in that cup of tea.
The Neon Demon really doesn’t contain much juice – just a load of bright colours and lingering facial expressions. It’s basically just awful (it contains a scene where one of the girls fingers – and then fucks a female dead body for god’s sake!) – I couldn’t believe my eyes for most of this movie.

It’s only worth watching for the artistic value. Personally, I definitely won’t be watching this movie again.

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This entry was posted on July 30, 2016 by .
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