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The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

USA/Frankreich/Dänemark 2016 - with Elle Fanning, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, Keanu Reeves ...

The Frankfurt-Tipp rating:

Movie info

Original title:The Neon Demon
Genre:Drama, Thriller
Direction:Nicolas Winding Refn
Cinema release:23.06.2016
Production country:USA/Frankreich/Dänemark 2016
Running time:Approx. 117 min.
Rated:From 16 years

Young Jesse (Elle Fanning) comes to Los Angeles with a dream and a heavy dose of naivety. She wants to become a successful model, but has no idea of the rough edges that are fought in this business. Nevertheless, she not only manages to get accepted by a renowned agency. She also gets a test shooting with one of the hottest photographers in town. So the big break could come sooner than she thought. But Jesse's youthful recklessness, her beauty and her rapid success also brings envious people with it - and they are right with every means, so that Jesse disappears very quickly from the scene.


No question, Nicolas Winding Refn is at least since the success of Drive, what can generally be called a cult director. And as is so often the case with such filmmakers, in addition to the loyal followers who love the very unique narrative style of his films, there are those viewers who can't relate to it at all. I'm very conflicted about Nicolas Winding Refn. I liked Drive and also Pusher, also found Valhalla Rising fascinating in its own unique way. Only God Forgives, on the other hand, I couldn't warm up to at all. On the contrary. But even though I found that film really quite awful, I still think the Dane is an exciting filmmaker, because he is actually unpredictable, so I also wanted to give his latest work The Neon Demon a chance.

If you are one of those fans for whom it is certain that Nicolas Winding Refn is a genius who can't make bad films and for whom every shot, however pointless it may seem, has a profound meaning, you will love The Neon Demon. Everyone else will probably be extremely divided. The film has a few moments where it is a very obvious satire on the modeling business. Here, the production reveals a bite and viciousness that is simply awesome. It's like a sort of Black Swan with models - only more abysmal, cynical and merciless. In those moments, I'm willing to grant the film a certain genius. But then there are the endless moments of sequences that look good but make no real sense. The story becomes more and more of an episodic collage that is neither fascinating, nor particularly entertaining.

A necrophilia scene, which is of course art and therefore warrants a surprisingly low FSK rating, is then the pinnacle of pointlessness. Certainly a lot can be read into this scene. Probably whole treatises could be written about these five minutes. But one also gets the impression that this scene, which supposedly wasn't in the script, was only staged in such an elaborate way and included in the finished film in order to shock. It may be that there are viewers who can see something poetic, something exposing, or something of filmmaking genius in this scene. But it's equally justifiable to see this sequence as sick and tasteless - and I personally lean more towards the latter.

But that's probably what Nicolas Winding Refn is trying to achieve with his films. He doesn't want to please everyone, he wants to provoke, polarize and provoke strong reactions - no matter if that's enthusiasm or rather clear rejection. And he has definitely succeeded again here. I'm happy for anyone who can see something special in a film like this, who is captivated by this very special kind of production and is left with a lasting impression of it. But such viewers shouldn't automatically assume that anyone who doesn't share this opinion simply didn't understand the film. Unfortunately, you hear this argument a lot, especially with filmmakers like Nicolas Winding Refn. One should never forget: Tastes differ. And this is revealed much more clearly in such films than in mainstream merchandise. Here, however, is quite clear: Only for fans of the director, who also found Only God Forgives ingenious, absolutely worth seeing. For all others rather conditionally recommendable!

An article by Frankfurt-Tipp


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Cinema trailer for the movie "The Neon Demon (USA/Frankreich/Dänemark 2016)"
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