First, I would not recommend this movie to anyone.
Repeat: I would not
recommend this movie to anyone. There.
You’ve been warned. The
images are just too disturbing, and the content is just too bizarre.
The premise is plausible enough.
A teenage girl arrives in L.A. with dreams of stardom.
That happens every day. But
this girl, Jesse, really is something special.
She has “that look”---enough to make men’s eyes glaze over
and jaws go slack, and enough to make women insanely jealous.
And yet she’s also somehow innocent and guileless and
un-self-conscious. At least
for now. Jesse is too young
and naïve to understand the depth of the emotion directed toward her.
Her first instinct is to trust the first person who’s nice to
her, Ruby (Jena Malone), who is actually a make-up artist.
Ruby gets her an appointment with a “real” fashion
photographer, who instantly takes a shine to her, but of course his
interest in her is prurient, also. Here’s
the first step down the slippery slope of stardom.
It’s easy to believe that Elle Fanning, as Jesse, is every
person’s fantasy. She turned
18 after the filming. She has
long blond, thick hair, big, sensuous lips, a turned-up nose, great
cheekbones, and expressive eyes. As
Jesse, she doesn’t realize how beautiful she is----yet.
But the more people keep fawning over her, and trying to use her,
and yes, abuse her, as well----she begins to get it.
It’s not that she wants to be like them, it’s that they want to
be like her. So much so that
everyone wants a piece of her. Sometimes
Director Nicolas Winding Refn is already known for his edgy
filmmaking, but this one definitely pushes the envelope of acceptable
viewing. Sometimes, there are
beautiful tableaus filled with gorgeous models.
Other times, there are snarling beasts, either live or mounted on
the wall. People are
incredibly cruel, selfish, and crass, but they’ll smile at you and
pretend they like you, so look out for the backstabbers.
Literally and figuratively. Fortunately,
Mr. Refn has enough sense not to exploit nudity for the underage Ms.
Fanning (though she does appear languorously in a sensuous fantasy
sequence). But the female
nudity elsewhere is as casual as the violence---would you believe watering
the petunias while topless? How
about brandishing scissors? Partner
showers to wash off all that annoying blood?
Well, if Mr. Refn was attempting to show us an allegory about
celebrity, and how we worship beauty as an idol but then devour it, then
he’s made his point very clear. Taking
it one step over the line, we even idolize our dead celebrities---but
demonstrating that by a startling scene of necrophilia?
That is truly horrific, even if it is an attempt to be prophetic.
It only succeeds in being pathetic.
I understand that Ms. Fanning missed her prom in order to attend
the opening of the film in Cannes. She
should have gone to her prom instead.
And you should go anywhere other than to the theater to see this
monstrosity under the guise of avant-garde.