Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Review: The Neon Demon



I have tried to get behind Nicolas Winding Fehn’s films, always being puzzled by them, but in the end, I find them a bit too fashionably abstract and recycled for my tastes. When I saw the first trailers for The Neon Demon I became excited, maybe he finally made a film that would fulfill the promise he seemed to have but was not able to fully convey ( Valhalla Rising was too comfortable with being vague with no real point behind it and Bronson was to exploitive and shallow). I have to say I was not disappointed. The most challenging film I have seen this year would without a doubt be The Neon Demon. A kind of abstracted postmodern horror film that doubles as a pervert’s guide to economics ( more on this later). No real characters. No suspense. No tragedy. Only cold, shiny surfaces devoid of emotion and blind hunger unfulfilled. There is a lot of talk about currency and the economic value of beauty, combined with the surrealist eyeball ending straight out of a Bataille novel and director Refn’s intentions become clear, The Neon Demon is a Sadean/Bataillean critique of the use of capital/human worth in this strange new era we seem to be lost in ( both de Sade and Bataille would use transgressive/perverse imagery to examine political/economic themes in their writing). Elle Fanning gives an amazing performance as a postmodern vampiric innocent turned virginal libertine. A flawed masterpiece, a little all over the place and a bit overlong, but visually stunning and bravely alienated and challenging, just the kind of film we need to counter the empty action porn of the summer blockbuster’s monopoly of our imaginations.

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