Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.
The following article may contain spoilers and triggers.
The Neon Demon is a must watch for anybody who appreciates the depths of beauty and art, has an eye for design and eccentric fashion, or just wants a good thriller with an interesting plot. This ever fascinating film highlights the dark and hidden secrets behind the modeling industry with just enough of a complex storyline to grab onto viewers and just enough thrill and gore to keep them watching. Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn may have just created the most aesthetically pleasing and overall incredible film of the year.
The vivid film started off strong from the very beginning, captivating the audience with and intense scene of a young aspiring model, Jesse, (Elle Fanning.) The 16 year old girl was seen at a photoshoot, sprawled out on a chaise, covered in bloody makeup, and surrounded by bright lights and a seemingly dangerous photographer. Following this opening scene, we are given a better look into the life of Jesse as she stands in the dressing room with makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone.)
Naive Jesse had recently moved to Los Angeles to try her hand at the (literally) cutthroat fashion industry and is later told by an agency that she could be the next big thing when it comes to modeling. Following this announcement, Jesse is thrown out into a figurative sea of sharks and is left to navigate the rough waters of carnivorous California models, distrusting photographers, and conniving motel owners.
Jesse immediately faces problems with a touchy photographer and things don’t seem to get better as she has to continuously put up with Hank (Keanu Reeves,) the owner of the sketchy motel she crashes at while exploring the industry. Not to mention, as she quickly makes friends with Ruby, this friendship may be anything but friendly as Ruby uses Jesse to further her own selfish needs.
Jesse is torn down bit by bit by fellow models under her agency, including Gigi (Bella Heathcote,) and Sarah (Abbey Lee.) These girls will stop at nothing to climb to the top of the fashion ladder, and they slowly but surely wear off on pure Jesse, leaving her to accept narcissistic truths and trade her vulnerability in for power.
The Neon Demon vividly casts a glow onto the horrifying ways of Hollywood and the reviews have been mixed since it’s release on June 24th. Using glowing neon colors and outlandish backdrops, The Neon Demon is able to turn a gory predatory story into a sleek and highly fashionable drama.
Director Refn spoke at the Los Angeles press conference regarding his idea surrounding the movie. Refn stated that “The origin came a few years ago, when I woke up one morning and kind of realized I wasn’t born beautiful, but my wife was,” he continued with, “So I thought, ‘I wonder what it would be like to having been born beautiful?’. It’s part of that fantasy that I think every man has, which is being desired for one specific reason, which is beauty.” Refn added that “Part of the film was a celebration of narcissism as a quality. The idea of loving oneself. I wanted ‘The Neon Demon’ to be a movie about the inner 16-year-old girl of me.”
Not everyone will truly appreciate the deep rooted meaning behind the grotesque event that is The Neon Demon, but those who do see past the glamorous facade will be greeted with a whole new outlook on the ideas of self-love, toxic narcissistic thoughts, and the ever present need to compete with those around you.
Throughout the entire film, the aesthetics are kept up, and they don’t even falter towards the end when touchy ideas of cannibalism and rape are brought up. Despite the thrilling aspects, the movie clearly shows the difficulties and problems associated with desire and jealousy.
The Neon Demon is an important film with feministic qualities and harsh truths on the beauty standards held for women and although not for everyone, is definitely worth a view.
Have you seen The Neon Demon? If so, let us know what you thought about it in the comments below or by tweeting us @CelebMix!