I saw the trailer for The Neon Demon about a month ago when I went to see Matteo Garrone’s Tale of Tales and I was genuinely excited at the prospect of another movie by Nicolas Winding Refn. My husband, perhaps, would also be of the thought that the trailer for The Neon Demon was the best thing about our experience of Tale of Tales but more on that later. However, now that I’ve seen it I really don’t know what to make of it. I’ve taken time to mull this over but what I’m ultimately left with is a split review as, for me, the movie itself seems divided between a social commentary of the modelling industry’s perceptual image of ‘style over substance’ and what I can only describe as a bonkers final twenty minutes which I think had something to do with consumerism and immortality? I can’t be sure which is kind of my point.
I won’t tell you what the movie is about, you can read that on the link above, but the pros for the movie were:
- Elle Fanning’s spectacular performance as the somewhat self absorbed Jesse.
- The strobe lighting scene which had my on the edge of my seat waiting for the bound models to move towards our heroine.
- Sheer cinematography. The weight of every shot to be visually impactful over contextually so is striking. Very Kubric-esque.
- The fact that I’m still thinking about it.
However this final point is also a minus because in reality I’m still thinking about it due to the fact that I’m trying to puzzle it out, like a tangled necklace that’s so beyond saving you end up resenting it. What were you trying to tell me? What did I not get?
I remember looking at my watch with about 30 minutes of running time remaining and thinking ‘yeah I get it, is it nearly over?’ but it couldn’t be and lets just say that I was not prepared. My reactions throughout the film finale were as follows and really if you haven’t seen it you should stop reading now:
- Oh I knew that this was a trap.
- Why is the makeup artist in on this? Doesn’t she love her or something?
- Why are you taunting them? Do you realise that they’re going to kill you?
- Ah…well that escalated quickly.
- Why are they still walking towards her? Oh my god what are they going to do?
- Ok so are they vampires?
- I’m confused.
- Lesbian vampires?
- Oh a bloody bathtub; very Hostel 2.
- There’s quite a lot of blood. They must have watered it down.
- There can’t be that much blood in a person can there?
- Why is she sat on top of her grave?
- Well I bet you regret it now don’t you makeup lady?
- Is she going to come back as a vampire? Has this whole thing been some kind of vampire induction process? That’s very disappointing.
- Why is she masturbating in the moonlight.
- Is this part of the vampire ritual thing?
- Oh she’s pissing…
- Christ it’s complicated to make a vampire.
- Ok so…not a vampire?
- Ah blond 1 looks a bit remorseful.
- YOU ATE HER!! YOU FUCKING ATE HER?!
- This was not at all clear to me, you crazy, crazy models.
- Ah I see so by consuming her she has become beautiful.
- That’s not exactly a good moral code though…
- Or sustainable.
- Is this some kind of modern metaphor for vampirism?
- Ah she’s going to throw up blood all over your swimming pool mate.
- RUN BLONDIE RUN!!!
- IS THAT AN EYE!! A FUCKING EYE?!
- Oh yuk, self mutilation.
- Oh even more gross.
- DON’T EAT IT!!
- She bloody ate it.
- What am I actually watching?
- Is that it?
- Is there more? Should I go?
- Gav’s going to ask my what I thought and I have nothing to give him.
And that’s the way my thoughts stayed for a good thirty minutes. I kept trying to think of something insightful to say, not only for Gav but for myself. I had nothing and, more worrying, neither did he. The only thing we could really agree upon was that it was bonkers. What on earth had we watched?
The answer? I don’t know people…I just don’t know.