The Neon Demon (2016)
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Remember, just because something looks good, doesn't mean it tastes good.
Never has beauty and ugliness been portrayed so strongly, graphically within the same frame. Like other Nicolas Winding Refn's films (especially his last two-Drive and Only God Forgives), there is a lot more style than substance, yet, as other commentators have noted, the style IS the substance.
Here, perhaps more than his other works, everything is so apparently intentional that it borders on obvious meaning. The most notable characteristics are the striking use of color and music. Even if you hate an NWR picture and can't find anything to connect to, the one thing most people will agree on are the sights and sounds. From the opening credits, you know you are about to enter a world that take place in a parallel reality where the 1980s never ended but have evolved to take place in a vision of Los Angles that looks remarkably like the early 21st century. The pulsating synths of NWR regular, Cliff Martinez, recall his work on that arthouse actioner, Drive, and like that feature, the music is as much a part of the landscape as the long corridors and swimming pools.
Beauty is the currency and as you get on in years, you can maintain your tenuous hold on it through artificial means. The seemingly perfect exteriors hide the ugly cracks underneath, that grotesque nature of ourselves that we don't even admit to our own mirrored reflections. Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection and Dorian Gray killed to maintain his youth.
(If they were ever to remake Suspiria [not that that should ever happen, but it is inevitable] I hope NWR does it. Even if he goes the Gus Van Sant Psycho route, this movie played like his modern take on that Argento classic.)
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In 4 official lists
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This movie ranks #36 in FOK!'s Film Top 250
This movie ranks #43 in Cahiers du Cinéma's Annual Top 10 Lists
This movie ranks #703 in TSZDT's The 1,000 Greatest Horror Films
This movie ranks #957 in TSPDT's 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films