The Neon Demon

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Year Released: 2016
Rating: 2.0

"Eighteen year old" (cough, cough) model Jesse (Elle Fanning) is alone in Los Angeles and trying to get modeling jobs - she eventually befriends the more experienced make-up artist Ruby (Jena Malone) but incurs the wrath of other models (Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote) when photographers pick her over them ... so they eat her and take a bath in her blood. I guess I'll give Winding Refn credit for touching ever, ever so lightly on female competition and the (futile?) quest for perfect beauty (and regained youth?) - as well as the sleaziness of the "modeling industry" (another easy target) - but this is modern and glossy Eurotrash (set in L.A., ironically), grabbing pieces of other movies (Mulholland Dr., Black Swan, The Hunger, Nacho Serda's Aftermath, the 'work' of Jean Rollin) and, ahem, adding more neon (and a puma! symbolism alert!). At this point, I think of "NWR" as 95% stylist, 5% intellectual - and the visuals are superb - but a bit more work could have been done on developing characters (it goes nowhere with Keanu Reeves' slumlord) and dialogue ("I don't want to be them. I want to be me."): he has to decide whether to get help with his scripts or stick with making commercials and music videos.