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.
Nicolas Winding Refn has given us some fairly memorable images on the big screen over the years. ‘Drive‘ might be his most successful and most main stream film to date. That film was critically acclaimed and praised by almost everyone. He followed that movie up with ‘Only God Forgives‘ and it didn’t do so well, both financially and critically. Refn and his wife even made a documentary about it, but Refn left a sour taste on the film community, at least for a little while. This might have been a blessing in disguise though, as Refn has decided to completely do his own thing from now on.
Sure, he has usually never compromised his views or style really, but with his latest film ‘The Neon Demon‘, he does exactly what he wants, how he wants, and when he wants. The result is brilliant. Refn of course is one of those filmmakers who just passionately loves film at its purest state. He’s considered one of the big fans of all movies, perhaps with a slight pension towards the bizarre and grindhouse-like style. Refn has pushed the bounds of filmmaking and story-telling with ‘The Neon Demon‘ and has made us excited that we crossed that line with such originality and beauty. For sure, ‘The Neon Demon‘ is a one-of-a-kind movie and dare I say that Nicolas Winding Refn is Stanley Kubrick come back to life.
Refn has made a beautiful horror film and satire all at the same time that takes a look at the fashion model world in Los Angeles. It’s as if he took what we were all thinking and actually filmed it. Kubrick would have been proud of this film, as Refn perfectly framed and captured every single moment on film that told a story and meant something. The film follows a very young model named Jesse (Elle Fanning), who ends up in Los Angeles by herself, with no friends or family. She is a natural beauty and has just landed a top agency. When she’s not out impressing the designers or photographers with her looks, she stays at a seedy motel run by a scum-bag named Hank (Keanu Reeves).
Jesse seems like a timid girl, but she has more up her sleeve than she lets on, and not always in the most positive of ways. Due to her natural beauty and innocence, she wins the gigs of all the top magazines, which causes the other older models to lose out on the spotlight and make them bitter and jealous, including Gigi and Sarah (Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee). A makeup artist by the name of Ruby (Jena Malone) takes young Jesse under her wing, but there is always something off about her in her presentation and demeanor.
Through this visual paradise of elegance and ugliness, the story unfolds in a direction that you really won’t see coming. When it does happen, Refn goes all out and never stops or flinches away with any of it. ‘The Neon Demon‘ is truly a beautiful yet horrifying film for all the right reasons. The score by Cliff Martinez is fantastic as well and always adds to each moment of the movie’s unpredictability and suspense.
Elle Fanning is simply fantastic here too, as she portrays someone you really never root for, but at the same time want her to succeed. Keanu Reeves provides some great entertainment and comedy too with Malone, Heathcote and Lee delivering top notch supporting performances. Refn has made an visually stunning film with one hell of a story that could be all too real in this day and age. Again, Refn would have made Kubrick proud with this one-of-a-kind movie experience.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
‘The Neon Demon’ comes with a 50GB Blu-ray Disc from Broad Green Pictures and is Region A Locked. There is no insert included here nor is there a digital download code. The disc is housed in a hard, blue plastic case.
'The Neon Demon' comes with an excellent 1080p HD transfer presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio. Like the film itself above, the visuals are just stunning and this video presentation accentuates all of the strengths in color and detail here. Shot digitally, this image is just beautiful and haunting all at once. The colors simply pop off screen and has a wide gamut of colors used to promote the symbolism and story of the film.
In the grimy reality of Los Angeles in seedy motels or morgues, there is a certain decay amongst the colors. It just feels dirty. However, when there is a scene during a photo shoot or dream-like sequence, the colors are bright and vibrantly shine right off the screen in an almost fantastical and well, neon sort of way. It looks phenomenal. Detail is very sharp and vivid throughout. Every strand of hair and gory makeup effect can be seen easily here. Each freckle and facial line is visible in closeups as well as wider shots.
There are also a few low lit sequences throughout as well, and the image never softens up in these instances. Black levels are always deep and inky throughout and the skin tones are remarkably natural, even with no makeup or tons of makeup. There were no instances of any banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of, leaving this video presentation with top marks.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD 5.1 MA mix and sounds excellent. A lot of the sound effects are intensified for effect, whether it be the sound of leather moving or high heels stomping, or even some more gruesome audio effects. All of these sounds are provoke a reaction and are overly done to do so, but also sound excellent and very realistic.
There is also a ton of great directionality here too with cameras flashes and people chattering in the background. The score by Cliff Martinez is amazing and adds to each haunting and beautiful scene in a most hypnotic way. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow, and free of any pops, cracks, hiss, or high shrills. Again, this is a top notch audio presentation.
Audio Commentary - Director Nicolas Winding Refn and actress Elle Fanning provide a very fun and informative commentary track as they discuss making the film. They talk about the makeup effects, real punches thrown, symbolism, abandoned ideas, and working with Keanu Reeves. It was a great listen.
Behind the Soundtrack of 'The Neon Demon' (HD, 5 Mins.) - Here we have director Nicolas Winding Refn and Cliff Martinez discussing the music and score of the film with some clips from the film and the actual music itself. This is collected from a few different interviews.
About 'The Neon Demon' (HD, 1 Min.) - A super short promo reel of the cast and crew talking about the film, mostly on red carpets and press interviews with clips of the film spliced in.
'The Neon Demon' is one of the Best films of the year, or for that matter, in a long time. The visuals are an updated version of Stanley Kubrick and the score by Cliff Martinez is exquisite. The acting by everyone involved is excellent and the story mixes comedy, horror, drama, and a bit of science fiction into a dark satire of the fashion model world. It's one that you won't soon forget and Nicolas Winding Refn has forever cemented his name as one of the greats in filmmaking. The video and audio presentations are both excellent, but there is a lack of bonus features here, despite a great commentary track. That being said, this comes highly recommended.