The Neon Demon Movie Review

It’s time for another movie review presented by FatCats Gilbert located on the southwest corner of Greenfield and Baseline. FatCats Gilbert is the best place to spend the summer, and with the most comfortable movie theater in the valley, FatCats Gilbert is the best place to see the latest releases. It’s also just $5 on Tuesdays!

With a few movies coming out this week, first I’m going to review The Neon Demon, the newest film from director Nicolas Winding Refn. The first movie I saw from Nicolas Winding Refn was Drive which starred Ryan Gosling. I absolutely adore Drive. It is one of my favorite movies of the 2010s, and it’s probably my favorite Ryan Gosling movie. I love Drive, so I was expecting to like Winding Refn’s other movies, but I think that Bronson is just okay, and I really do not care for Only God Forgives, so I was hoping to stand more on the “Drive-side” for The Neon Demon. I have to be honest, after the trailer I was kind of expecting to like the movie just about as much as I liked Only God Forgives. I expected it to rely on mostly graphic shock value, but all in all be a well crafted film that was visually stunning, yet unenjoyable in my opinion. Let’s talk about it!

The Neon Demon is directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and stars Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Bella Heathcote, and Abbey Lee Kershaw. When sixteen year-old Jesse moves to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a beautiful model, she begins to learn what fame and luxury can bring in the world of Hollywood modeling. She sees vanity, jealousy, rejection, and that people are not always what they seem to be. Can she refrain from joining the rest of the models in their fantasy world where plastic surgery and beauty are the only things that matter, or can she keep her goals in mind and stay with the right people to guide her down the right path?

Nicolas Winding Rein does one thing as well as any other filmmaker in the business today: visuals. This movie is absolutely incredible visually, and I can’t stress that enough. It’s really unlike any other movie I have ever seen from another director. It is one of the best parts of Winding Refn’s other movies, and this movie continues the trend of absolutely amazing visuals in Refn’s filmography. This is a very colorful and beautiful movie, and just as I said, I can’t even begin to describe how strong this movie is in that aspect. It is also amazingly well made. Nicolas Winding Refn is really a talented director and filmmaker, and not just from a visual standpoint. The way he puts shots together and lights shots is absolutely amazing, and it’s something I really admire as someone who would like to make a film. I really think that he is so capable of making some of the best movies of our time because he is just that good of a filmmaker from a technical standpoint. I thought that Jena Malone and Elle Fanning were both good in their roles, and they are very peculiar characters who I was slightly intrigued by.

I said I was slightly intrigued by them. I thought that a lot of the characters were very flat and just kind of portrayed the typical idea of Los Angeles models. If that is what Los Angeles modeling is like, remind me to never get into that world. Did I say never? I really meant NEVER. All of these characters are just horrible people, and they are tough to watch because they are just so arrogant. It’s really hard to sit there and even cheer for any of the characters because they are all horrible, vain sociopaths. The characters made it difficult to enjoy the story, and it was also difficult to enjoy the story because not much is really happening. It is a very thin story, and the reason I think that Nicolas Winding Refn is not talked about among the best of today’s filmmakers is because he seems to use shock value and amazing visuals to distract from his poor storytelling. The screenplay was also very, very flat, and I know that Winding Refn is more of a visual storyteller than a vocal storyteller who uses dialogue to make character connections, but the screenplay is very obvious. Most lines of dialogue are short, simple, and concise with ideas that are just very plain. When the basic screenplay is coupled with a lot of unanimated acting, the movie gets pretty dull from a connection and narrative view. Finally, just like I said, this movie relies a lot on pure shock value. The last thirty or so minutes of this movie are just purely shocking and kind of a letdown after what you can imagine has been built up from the rest of the movie. It’s unsettling moment after unsettling moment, and it just gets to a really gross point that made me a different man walking out than I was walking in. I’ve seen some serious stuff.

Overall, this movie is an absolute masterpiece when we are discussing filmmaking and visuals. It looks amazing, and Nicolas Winding Refn always brings that to each and every one of his films. He does an incredible job with coloring and lighting and the way he constructs, edits, and puts together shots. This movie has great camerawork, and it is mostly intriguing purely because it is shocking. I did not like any of the characters, and the story and storytelling did not capture my attention or keep my attention because I was mostly in pure shock for most of the movie waiting for the tension to release. The tension was excellently built by an awesome soundtrack and through Winding Refn’s visuals, but it is a little bit of a letdown when it is released and strives for pure shock, and it’s just gross. It’s really, really gross, and that’s the only way I know how to put it. I’m going to give The Neon Demon a 4/10.

Will you be headed out to see The Neon Demon this weekend? Comment and let me know! There are a few more movies coming out this weekend such as Free State of Jones, The Shallows, and Independence Day: Resurgence, so will you be seeing any of those? I should have my review for The Shallows out tonight, and I plan to have a review for Independence Day: Resurgence out on Thursday night, so be sure to stay tuned for that. As always, thank you, and keep listening to 88.7 The Pulse!

PHOTO: Film School Rejects

About Justin Lyons

Hey, it's Justin Lyons! I am the Chief Film Critic for The Pulse. Have any questions for me? Please feel free to email me at [email protected]