As the story unfolds and Jesse’s star begins to rise we see how it affects her and her fellow models. Initially she is a shy small town girl who expresses that she has no talents but knows she is pretty and that’s why she moved to LA for modeling, she has a nice first date with Dean that ends with her shyly rebuking a kiss but eagerly wanting a 2nd date to rudely dismissing Dean after she has become the personification of natural beauty to the fashion designer. Refn surprisingly offers a talented parallel to the Greek Narcissus. After learning she is headlining the fashion show Jesse has a bizarre dreamlike sequence with triangles and she’s bathed in blue and looking nervous and timid before ultimately galling for herself and her own beauty kissing her reflection and turning to red. Once red her gaze is no longer fearful, her eyes are sharper and she has become Narcissus doomed by her own beauty. Soon after she escapes from her dreary motel (does she not get paid for her modeling) managed by sleezy predator Keanu Reeves (really odd casting, he seems out of place, probably just a fan of Refn and said ok) to a mansion where Ruby is housesitting. Ruby tries to get some but is turned down, then because Refn needs to offend the most people possible, we get a weird necrophilia scene (Ruby also does makeup for dead people) When Ruby returns to Jesse at the mansion Jesse has gone further into Narcissus and is even peering into an empty pool referring to herself as dangerous and forebodingly saying people would kill to look like me. Fitting that is where she ultimately is killed, mutilated and consumed by her friends. Here Refn borrows from South and Meso-American history of human sacrifice and cannibalism. By eating Jesse, Gigi and Sarah hope to gain her beauty. Gigi who had been obsessed with perfection through surgery cannot handle it while Sarah has regained her confidence and her allure. Ruby’s response is through a fairly overt and explicit menstration scene. Rebirth might not be the best word to describe her response but I’m not sure what is.
NWR has described The Neon Demon as a film about beauty, he dedicated the movie to his wife. They must have a weird relationship because it wasn’t the type of I love you honey movie you expect in a dedication. Ultimately NWR is a talented director and cinematographer and at best a mediocre story teller. The Neon Demon is a classic example of film as art over film as entertainment. Viewers who watch as art will appreciate it more. C- for me I’m more into entertainment but I recognize good qualities in The Neon Demon. If Drew reads this he will undoubtedly accuse me of grading on a curve.