Viewed – 10 December 2016 Online-rental
I wasn’t the biggest fan of visionary director Nicolas Winding Refn’s last movie, Only God Forgives … a movie whilst stylistically impressive didn’t draw me in at all. However I do consider the acclaimed Drive a bit of a cult classic. So on a film-lover’s basis I’ll always give this guy a day in court. This latest effort is sort of an amalgamation of influences but I suppose most closely resembles Black Swan, swapping the ballet scene for fashion. Elle Fanning plays a young model newly arrived in Los Angeles and hoping to get discovered. There she befriends makeup artist Ruby (Jena Malone) and gets a gig working for agency executive Christina Hendricks. However as her angelic natural beauty starts to catch the eye of several high profile photographers and designers, she attracts the jealously of fellow models.
This is a striking looking movie. Refn’s eye for beautiful / macabre imagery is perfectly suited to the subject and we get a very artistic, at times freaky but always interesting ‘experience’ that clearly borrows from the likes of David Lynch, Stanley Kubrick and to a heavy extent Dario Argento … with clear nods to Suspiria. Add to this an equally effective soundtrack with plenty of industrial-electronic beats enhancing the images. The plot which is fairly simple goes to some very dark, surprising places and has a stand out turn from Fanning who continues to be an actress to watch. One of my growing faves, Jena Malone is also very good (will she live down ‘that’ scene?). We also get an appearance from Keanu Reeves as a creepy hotel manager. A Winding Refn movie is not for everyone I’ll add … he goes to some pretty shocking extremes here and it all gets rather messed up towards the end, as his movies usually do – but here the twist is a little bonkers and left me feeling a bit pushed out of the experience, almost like Refn was trying to shock for sake of shock rather than concluding on something all that effective or convincing.
However as a bold observation of a very superficial industry where youth and beauty are used and thrown away easily – I still found this both disturbing and intriguing … but not quite the sum of its exceptional looking ‘parts’.
Verdict: 3.5 /5