“The Neon Demon” and the Violent Pursuit of Corporate Beauty

Nicholas Winding Refn’s latest film, The Neon Demon, is a parable about the allure and danger of beauty.  The film examines the dog-eat-dog nature of the modeling industry and displays the depravity that the pursuit of beauty encourages.  Using the standard “fresh face in the Big City” story as a jumping off point, Refn also invokes some interesting naiveté and maturation-based themes by focusing on the character 16-year old Jesse (Elle Fanning).  Sexuality exists in this film, but is mostly depraved, violent, and feminine.  The infamous and ethereal  “It Factor” is touched upon as well, as well as the artifice of beauty, and how it is instantly noticeable.  Though very much an “art house” film, Refn weaves a disturbing and edgy story in between his bizarre non-narrative light shows.  I would not fault viewers who balk at this method of storytelling, but the film is sufficiently interesting from a cinematic standpoint to at least generate some great discussion.

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