First Hit: Odd, visually striking, with great electronic music but the direct story was way too twisted.
However, there are depths in this story that are poignant and were interesting. Directly, Jesse (Elle Fanning), is a young girl without parents who comes to LA seeking to be a model. As she states: “I can’t dance, sing, or have any skills, all I have is my looks.” At 16 she’s young, she’s beautiful and everyone who meets her is taken by her presence, innocence, inner strength and beauty.
She quickly rises up in the LA fashion modeling scene, and the other models are jealous. There is a lot of gossipy discussion among the other girls about what work they have had done on their bodies to make themselves look better: Nose jobs, breast augmentation, eye lifts, body augmentations and lots of other things so that they can be the “it” girl and continue to work.
Jesse is naturally beautiful and mesmerizes every clothing designer and photographer she meets. She has become the "it girl". Her innocence and surety of her beauty is profound.
The depth of the film comes with what people will do to be seen as beautiful and how much physical beauty matters. I’m not sure I liked the way it was presented as I was bored at times but it also had a power of drawing me into the main character.
Fanning was very good as the young mid-western girl wanting to live her dream of being a model. Her ethereal beauty and strength were evident and why she was chosen for this part - she was perfect for it. Karl Glusman as Dean a photographer and friend of Jesse was OK, but didn’t bring out a strong dynamic. Jena Malone was very interesting as Jesse’s friend and make-up artist. Her twists are edgy. Bella Heathcote as Gigi the model who will do anything surgically to be the “it” model. Abby Lee was interestingly strong as another model who has some odd eating habits (at the end of the film). Keanu Reeves as the intense somewhat twisted motel manager was a nice turn. Nicolas Winding Refn wrote and directed this oddly twisted film.
Overall: This film was more odd and interesting than engaging.