The Neon Demon

On a day in last december, I was  watching and reviewing «High Rise» because the iTunes trailer of «The Neon Demon» was just too dull to have chosen it as the movie of the evening. As it turned out, that choice was a biiig mistake. Today I will try to correct that error:

As you may or probably may not know, I’m an avid admirer of Nicolas Winding Refn’s masterpiece that is «Drive» (even when I still neither know how to write nor pronounce his name correctly.)

If anything Refn’s movies are highly volatile: Lucky for me I got to see «Drive» and «Bronson» (another movie I love) before their predecessor «Valhalla Rising» gave me a good nap after boring me to tears while watching it on Netflix.

So let’s see what «The Neon Demon» has to offer:

It surely has the pacing of its siblings, the music style (again by Cliff Martinez who did it in «Drive») and a similar look and feel as «Drive». So we surely have two big pluses right here. So…?

Yes, definitively, yeah, I surely loved the movie. That much I can say. The cinematography (by Natasha Braier) and over all tone are awesome. And it sure makes an intriguing and gripping experience – on multiple levels. And it must be a think piece, ’cause I sure as hell didn’t get it in its entireness.

The movie starts out well behaved as a very pretty looking, interesting performed study about superficiality, the obsession with good looks, popularity, self esteem and surely some other big words relevant in social studies I don’t feel like looking up right now.

The fascinating thing about «The Neon Demon» is that not unlike in «Drive», its protagonist seems to be the most passive, least interesting thing about it. She mostly doesn’t act, she reacts, if anything, to her surroundings or nature given conditions. And this time, the protagonist’s role as a mirror to reflect the behaviour of the rest of the ensemble, and in the end, the audience, is even clearer and more effective.

And I was more than fine with all that.

Then the whole thing goes sideways (not in quality but in a making-sense-way). Let’s say the willingness to suspend one’s disbelief is just the start.

But interestingly enough, I was fine with that too. By the time the film really got strange, I was on board thanks to the slow pacing and almost ethereal storytelling, cinematography, soundtrack and performances. I felt like in a dream – a fever dream, very much so – but in a good way – whathever that means.

The movie really got me by surprise and entertained me, despite the lack of action and plausible character arc.

I think this movie will be getting more attention as it gets older. I know I will watch it again just to figure out what I might have missed and what the hell was going on. Let’s just say this film reminded me why I fell in love with movies in the first place.

And… SPOILERS AHEAD

Then, it got me: Of course! Vampires! and suddenly knew why Keanu Reeves is in this and why it reminded me of «From Dusk till Dawn».

But then again: with all the mirror shots and scenes in very bright sunlight, the movie goes a long way to make a point that the models carrying the story can’t be classical vampires. So I in the end, I still don’t know at all what to make of it, but still I surely enjoyed the movie a lot.

So I guess this review didn’t make much sense in any way, shape or form. But you know what? Neither did «The Neon Demon» at first sight, an I still liked the hell out of it. So there’s that.

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