The Neon Demon is an uncompromisingly divisive film. The 10th feature film for Nicolas Winding Refn who has made quite a name for himself with his unique style and controversial subject matter. His best known previous film was the extremely well received 2011 film, Drive, starring Ryan Gosling. After returning to the screen with Ryan Gosling in 2013’s Only God Forgives, Refn has now chosen to make a very female-centric film in The Neon Demon. In it there is a stirring commentary on the culture of beauty in our society today.
Refn said that this film was allowing him to be born into the body of a beautiful 16 year old girl. He didn’t know what it was like to be beautiful and with two daughters, the oldest of which is 13, he wanted to explore the idea of beauty and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Some believe that Refn has gone too far and has slipped into the realm of smut in his latest film. I can see where they are coming from since there are some very extreme taboos that he plays with including cannibalism and necrophilia. However, while it certainly is not for everyone, The Neon Demon is a powerful film which has had me pondering its themes of beauty and death ever since I saw it last week.