The Neon Demon, Mr. Refn’s latest effort, follows in the steps and builds upon his previous one, Only God Forgives, in that it creates an intensely stylised filmic experience. He injects glamour aesthetics into an experience intended to shock the audience. He torments his characters with envy, greed and selfishness. He goes political by commenting on Hollywood’s voracious appetite for fresh faces. And yet, for all the tricks in his sleeve (think purple tinted necrophilia scene) he fails to scare. To thrill. To excite. Mind you, being shocked is not being scared. The unseen evil spirit lurking in the shadows is left unexplored.
And so I found myself being stuck in a sticky limbo, a tiring paradox. How could I manage to take pleasure in the amazing pictures and manage not to yawn and fret with impatience at the film’s overall silliness.
All in all, Mr. Refn is a master of style - and this is wonderful. One can’t easily be good at style and form and sniffing out the human condition.
Like Nuri Bilge Ceylan is.