The Neon Demon

 

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Nicolas Winding Refn's shocking take on the fashion industry was the talk of this year’s Cannes film festival, dividing critics mightily. We loved it.

 

    Neon Demon, The

Elle of a fashion shoot...

 

The cinema of Nicolas Winding Refn is often quite shocking and unsettling and people either love it or hate it. Personally, I am intrigued and fascinated by his originality and striking vision and his latest is no exception. Seventeen-year-old Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles in order to become a model. She is fresh, beautiful and full of dreams and when she meets the powerful agent Roberta Hoffman (Christina Hendricks) is encouraged to lie about her age and is ruthless in her determination to reach the top. And when she’s selected for a much desired fashion assignment, jealousies of epic proportions surface amongst her rival models...

  

Elle Fanning is superb as the wide-eyed innocent who begins to live her dream in this hostile environment. However, the real revelation here is Jena Malone as Ruby, the seemingly sympathetic makeup artist who takes Jesse under her wing. Abbey Lee and Bella Heathcote are also perfectly cast as the almost interchangeable models prepared to resort to any extreme measure in order to achieve their goal. There are echoes of Black Swan in this vicious attack on the fashion industry, but Refn’s direction is entirely unique. It is visually stunning, very cinematic, with perfectly framed compositions. And the award-winning soundtrack by Cliff Martinez proves to be the ideal accompaniment to the director’s eerie, atmospheric and often disturbing film.

 

GEORGE SAVVIDES

 

Cast: Elle Fanning, Karl Glusman, Jena Malone, Bella Heathcote, Abbey Lee, Christina Hendricks, Keanu Reeves, Desmond Harrington, Alessandro Nivola.

 

Dir Nicolas Winding Refn, Pro Lene Børglum and Nicolas Winding Refn, Screenplay Mary Laws, Nicolas Winding Refn and Polly Stenham, Ph Natasha Braier, Pro Des Elliott Hostetter, Ed Matthew Newman, Music Cliff Martinez, Costumes Erin Benach.

 

Gaumont Film Company/Wild Bunch/Space Rocket Nation/Vendian Entertainment/Bold Films-Icon 117 mins. France/Denmark/USA. 2016. Rel: 8 July 2016. Cert. 18.