Thursday, June 30, 2016

Broadgreen Pictures Film Review - The Neon Demon

The cutthroat ultra fiercely competitive world of modeling is the focus of   Nicolas Winding Refn's latest feature film. Refen's film brings the audience backstage , to auditions , parties wile exploring the day to day interaction between individuals usually seen walking down the runway at major designer's collections.

Jesse (Elle Fanning) is the new fresh face in town. She is 16, has no family but is not as doe eyed as she appears on the surface.  She lands a contract with a large L.A. modelling agency headed by Roberta Hoffmann excellently portrayed by Refn regular Christina Hendricks. Who tells Jesse to tell potential employers that she is 19 and not 18 as that would be too on the nose.  Jesse has test pictures taken by a friend (Dean) Karl Glusman who wants more from their relationship. At the shoot she meets  make up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) who can't get past Jesse's perfect skin.  Ruby befriends the new girl in town inviting her to an exclusive party where they meet up with Ruby's other two seasoned model pals Gigi ( Bella Heathote) and Sarah (Abby Lee) who seems to have had apparently had every type of plastic surgery possible and fears being out of the game by the time she turns 21.

Refn takes a writing credit for the film. The narrative presents a different turn on the young girl fresh off the bus to L.A. looking for fame and fortune. Jesse knows what she is, her strengths how to use them as currency and is unapologetic about getting to much too soon. The story pulls out a big chunk from the shallow intellectual puddle that is the world of modelling going to a new depths depicting what participants are willing to do to silence a threat to their livelihood.

Elle Fanning has a lot to do in her role as Jesse. All other characters bounce off her performance. She gets the innocent but cunning balance just right. Fanning stepped into the role that was originally linked to Refn favouritere Carey Mulligan adding her input to Jesse dialogue to authenticate how a 16 year old would act and react. Jena Malone is strong as Jesse best L.A. gal pal Ruby. She knows the industry having seen and worked on many a promising face that have flamed out in the past and recognizes Jesse unique qualities immediately. However its in her other job where she deals with the ultimate mannequins where Ruby truly shines. Look for Desmond Harrington in a small mostly silent role as an uber intense hard to book fashion photographer.

The Neon Demon  presents a new vision on the world of fashion featuring elements that has an alien sci-fi look and feel. The ensemble cast excel in their roles. The production does not shy away from heading to the fringes to make a point. The graphic nature of some of the scenes may not be for some viewers but its a film that will likely lead to repeat views in the theater and beyond.

*** 1/2 Out of 4.

The Neon Demon | Nicholas Winding Refn | France / Denmark / U.S.A. | 2016 | 118 min.

Tags: Modeling, Beauty, Youth, Innocence, Audition, L.A., Make Up, Morgue, Fashion Shoot.    



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