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The Neon Demon

THE NEON DEMON, set in L.A.’s ruthless fashion industry, is the most recent experiment in extreme stylization by Nicolas Winding-Refn (DRIVE, ONLY GOD FORGIVES).


“Beauty isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” is the statement of purpose in Nicolas Winding-Refn’s wild, outlandish, exalted THE NEON DEMON. Winding-Refn anticipates the most obvious criticism against the film, which is that THE NEON DEMON purely exists on the surface level. That wouldn’t be a wrong assessment at first glance but it could also be understood as being part of the concept since it is set in the fashion industry in Los Angeles. Young Jenny enters this world and is played by Elle Fanning with the same incredible innocence she also displayed in Sofia Coppola’s SOMEWHERE and Sally Potter’s GINGER & ROSA which made her seem like an unreal, angel-like being. This quality, this certain something, fascinates photographers and fashion designers alike in THE NEON DEMON and ignites the envy of the normal or surgically enhanced models who quite literally want to rip Jenny’s throat out. Winding-Refn stages this tale in dreamy tableaus with extreme artificiality, garish lighting, and strobe effects accompanied by the hard electro sounds of Cliff Martinez. In his earlier works VALHALLA RISING and ONLY GOD FORGIVES it was clear that Winding-Refn was at his best when he almost completely dispensed with the plot, characters, and psychology and concentrated on constructing impressionistic, hypnotic image sequences which work without making sense instead. THE NEON DEMON reaches those heights but it offers up too many interpretations. When superficiality is put on display so brilliantly it is hard to contradict the designers in the film: “beauty is everything!”

Michael Meyns

Translation: Elinor Lewy


USA/Dänemark/Frankreich 2016, 117 min
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Author: Nicolas Winding Refn, Mary Laws, Polly Stenham
DOP: Natasha Braier
Montage: Matthew Newman
Music: Cliff Martinez
Distributor: Koch Media
Cast: Elle Fanning, Abbey Lee, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Jena Malone, Alessandro Nivola
FSK: 16
Release: 23.06.2016




  • OV Original version
  • OmU Original with German subtitles
  • OmeU Original with English subtitles

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