Directed & Story By: Nicolas Winding Refn
Written By: Nicolas Winding Refn, Polly Stenham & Mary Laws
Cinematography By: Natasha Braier
Editor: Matthew Newman
Music By: Cliff Martinez
Cast: Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Karl Glusman, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, Desmond Harrington, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Alessandro Nivola, Jamie Clayton
*Please note that some trivia and facts have been republished from imdb among other sources In this review
When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty-obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.
The film dazzles visually, Like a fantasy or nightmare all in one. The film showcases extreme fashion and the shoot have become more to impress and catch as well as cause attention. Though exposes a European view of things more definitely and defiantly. The film makes bold choices keeping things unpredictable and stylish.
Whether the film is good or bad is up to the individual audience member to decide. Either way it can’t be denied they the film is an original and one of a kind.
The artifice the director seems to desire to expose, seems at times what his films might be made of though made to be deeply felt that exposes the falseness yet danger of their surroundings and they are the only so called real people. As well as we are all predatory by nature and it either comes out or is forced out.
The dialogue seems more stilted. I wonder if this is an attempt to make a more mainstream or at least audience friendly film. Giving them more of what they want except for a more simple coherent story. Though also keeps coming off as campy. As it seems to fail on many levels as it isn’t definable. Yet flirts at being many different genres and things.
Nicolas Winding Refn seems like a director who sets mood, style and angles but leaves the actors to fend for themselves to a degree. Which shows the greatness or the wackiness of cases that leaves them and the film looking great or questionable as you wonder, is that how they are supposed to be or play that?
Maybe like his previous film DRIVE, The key is to give him a project he didn’t originate and then let him use his ideas within that structure. Like. It’s directors as when he is given free range. It comes off as questionable and here overcrowded with indulgence
The film feels more David Lynch inspired. As it seems like his style or a film that seeks to be so much more then it is and by the end has to tie it all together Or in the same milieu of Bret Easton Ellis but more spiritual and supernatural and never quite at the level of unabridged decadence.
Though at times it comes off more as a Satire or horror that dresses itself in some of the convictions. While still aspiring to be one itself. Though one that is absent of humor so much that it brings some unintentional humor out of it.
Is it wrong to expect more of a social satire with style mixed in with maybe some otherworldly elements, similar to THE EYES OF LAURA MARS? Only updated and creepier,
Elle Fanning replaced Carey Mulligan after she dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. The director made her watch BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, for her preperation
Though as usual some scenes come across more as filmed like music videos, Though visually rich ones. As scenes sometimes are more grounded and graceful by the score than what might be showed on screen.
The film is meant to give off a tone that makes it feel foreign, alien, in other words downright polarizing for the audience. Every time you believe you have figured it out, New scenes comes up that defies logic or reasoning.
The film that brings to mind the question should we judge or grade differently, films such as these or bold them to a different category and standard. Due to reputation or types of film the director makes as you can’t exactly compare a film like NEIGHBORS to an Igmar Bergman film or do you judge them
Like everyone else? Some are good for cinematic history others less far reaching and more for just the moment a time capsule of culture of sorts. Take into account what type of filmmaker they are, actions and visuals speak louder than words plus gives the soundtrack
The film has strength and leaves more room to be effective than what we get. Which just leaves the audience for itself. When it seems desperately wanting to say something. It is almost like speaking a foreign language and expects the audience to know exactly what it is saying.
The introduction of Keanu Reeves character into the film, Feels like it is meant to be a surprise that comes across as a jump scare. Though his sleazy character ends up becoming as dangerous and scary as he is introduced and seems. Though his presence throughout the film feels more like a cameo and a situation of stunt casting.
Desmond Harrington almost steals the movie as his scenes of ambivalence while helping to create a mood and image. Adding to the individual self or model what is needed to make it pop and be extraordinary as the industry is already predatory it seems an elegant savagery. It ends up being a scene of creation almost sexual in it’s intimacy. He is barely in it but feels like a vital magician in all of this. Through it all the film is not exactly a lost opportunity. It is a cruel cold film.
Cliff Martinez, who worked on the film’s soundtrack, described the movie as a mix between VALLEY OF THE DOLLS and THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. According to him the first half is a melodrama like Valley of the Dolls while the second half is a horror film like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.
Strangely feels like a movie from The 1980’s as all the elements especially the continued use of neon. (Which is in the title) It feels like high art. The film seems fascinated with triangles and pyramids futuristic mosaic imagery that feels held over from the band DAFT PUNK concerts.
Presents the models in the world of fashion, props to the story really that take over the narrative and get all the credit in the end. Ultimately though it could be a disclosed vampire tale or something involving sacrifices feeding off the young to keep young yourself. The film soon exposes the Obvious as to who can handle the challenges, responsibility. Who can truly devour, prosper and hold it down.
An allegory for youth who come to Los Angeles or New York only to be sacrificed for others. Are usually at the mercy of older power holders who feed off of them to retain their power and strength. Where they once ruled.
The character of Ruby is based on Film director Alejandro Jodorosky
The film feels stiff and lifeless in some parts of the film. That you can’t tell is intended or if maybe necessary. As too much would drive the film off a cliff
The film comes off as many thing, but shallow and empty are the main things that come to mind. Just as fantasies can become and Los Angeles offers of you get to used to it. As through the film we deal with glossy surfaces that have no depth and have to be handled with care of dealing with as they can always trip you up and distract.
Make conceptions of female beauty quite often the male characters being the judge of that and the ones who add, correct, dream or define what is beautiful as well as control the female characters to a degree, While Praised as artists. The girls are like living blank canvas and spaces or art waiting and wanting to be added to accentuated or painted on corrected to a degree to be appreciated. The center of attention Though other scenes gleefully shows them in natural beauty with added in depth though hard to make a point when he as the director is doing the same thing that the male characters in the movie go to the actresses making the film. As most of the males are passive but yet shape the females fates and lives.
Though tipped off early or heavily suggested in different ways and behavior. The film seems to want various shots to represent artistic photographs.
Easy to see how the main character gets seduced all the hard work and cattiness. She is in need of attention or someone to be. I’ve to her. So any kindness is welcome as it helps her build herself up. Though less about fashion the film seems more about beauty, youth and image. The transformation happens so suddenly that she is totally changed and almost unrecognizable. The many ways it can go or tries to, never goes the way you hope. Never really making the logical choice more restrained then crazy or necessarily wild.
The evils of Los Angeles are exposed only this time out in the open and by the people in power. It seems wanting to consume, devour her what makes her special might help run off on them.
Easy to follow the film somewhat until the necrophiliac scene. Which is where the film really begins to fly off the rails. As all that came before is at least understandable. Though at that point the film seems to abandon anything and if. It for the tone would feel like the ending to a totally different film.
Director Refn stated in a Q & A that the infamous morgue scene with Ruby and the corpse was improvised on set, originally having Ruby only kiss the corpse on the lips, Jena Malone went further and proceeded to molest the corpse.
There are certain scenes that could have been cut seems like a lot of images are just there to disturb and add nothing really. The ending sticks to a theme then comes full circle though feels tacked on and more feels like a horror film. Asking was it essential or was it strange psychosis or tribal taking over one’s turf
Pyramids are plastic and fake easily to be warped. as the ending seems to imply would work better as a story of obsession more than other worldly as it seems. Then again we wonder are we seeing it from a point of view or someone who is disturbed, mentally
Ultimately almost a revenge tale half the fun of entertainment is guessing what the film is going to say. It does seem to work. She can do what it takes no matter what and who to impress the creator who is all powerful.
Filled with monsters who create ones out of the ones who survive and aspire to impress. Can make themselves but not others. All of this craft. I only wish it was for something better, by the end feels as empty as the characters.