Sunday, June 12, 2016

Movie Review: THE NEON DEMON

A cocktail of sensual experience and craziness, The Neon Demon is a cinematic endeavor that deserves to be lived in the widest screen possible and whilst you will probably not walk out of it emotionally clear or satisfied, you will have had a mind trip in the weirdest possible directions and a physical reaction to it that is something I rarely ever get with films.

Right from the opening to the very end this film is all about aesthetic and visual beauty, both explicitly and thematically. The latter part might be the less successful element of the film, but as long as this movie was playing I didn't really care. The viewer sinks into a world and no matter how dark and f***ed up it appears to be, I wanted more of it. Natasha Braier gives us some of the best cinematography there is: both visually breath taking and inventive in its storytelling. Come to think of it, this film is very close to Antonioni's Blow Up stylistically, dialogue is barely given any importance and serves more as a connective tissue throughout the crazy journey we are taken through.

To talk about the visuals in this film proves to be very difficult, both because they are so clearly and complexly assembled and thought out, both for their immense beauty and abstraction, there are a number dolly shots scattered around the film that work magnificently, with superb staging and lighting, they were definitely highlights of this visual masterpiece. Yet, the images of this film are only one part of the many that combine seamlessly in making a piece of art that overcomes its flaws with the sheer value of the overwhelming sensual and moving feelings you get to live.

Cliff Martinez is just as deserving as Braier and Refn, his score is spot on with the tone of the film and ranges from unsettling and scary atmospheres to full on techno and it all molds perfectly, the way in which some parts of the film over power the sound with music pumped loud and clear to serve the story were really original and didn't bluntly imitate for example Sorrention's way of doing it, which could have been very easy, there was a unique voice behind the camera and that is always something that is good to see. Moreover, the performances are all particular and special in their own way. Elle Fanning goes to places that are uncomfortable and fascinating to see explored, Jena Malone goes even further and manages to make you buy into it. Yet the standout for me is Abbey Lee, when I first saw her last year in Mad Max: Fury Road, I wrote in my review that she really had something special and this is the proof of it, her prescience on screen is stunning and she manages to build a character visually first.

Thematically, as I said before, the film struggles to emerge, there is not a deep emotional connection established, no particular pay off nor a profound or interesting moral, yet the film clearly isn't as interested in being a traditional, three act story and that comes with both pros and cons. I wasn't turned off by anything in The Neon Demon, I had a blast and actually could care to watch it again on the big screen and whilst I didn't get too much of an emotionally satisfying experience I definitely had a lot for my mind to process.

James's Score: 7.5/10

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