Nicolas Winding Refn threw some serious shade at Lars von Trier, dismissing his fellow Danish filmmaker as “over the hill” at a press conference Friday for his new film “The Neon Demon.”
“He’s done a lot of drugs,” Refn said, before adding that the last time he saw von Trier, the director tried to sleep with Refn’s wife.
“He found some other slut,” Refn said.
This is not the first time that Refn has had harsh words for von Trier, the director of “Breaking the Waves” and “Dancer in the Dark.” In 2011, von Trier got into hot water at Cannes for making comments that were interpreted as being pro-Nazi. Refn said he was offended by the director’s remarks, prompting a profane rebuke from von Trier. There is also a family connection. Refn’s father, Anders, edited some of von Trier’s films.
“The Neon Demon” debuted this week at the Cannes Film Festival. It satirizes the world of fashion in Refn’s typical blood-drenched style, finding a way to mix cannibalism with haute couture. Elle Fanning stars as a model on the rise. “The Neon Demon” is the third film Refn has brought to Cannes, following “Drive” and “Only God Forgives.”
Refn said his film is trying to sound the alarm for the way that the digital revolution is creating absurd and dangerous standards of beauty and creating an “alternate universe.” Reaction to “The Neon Demon” has been mixed, with some critics describing it as visually arresting, but vapid. Refn embraced the polarized response.
“Art is not about good or bad, guys,” he said. “Those days are over.”
Comparing himself to the Sex Pistols, the punk rock group that torched musical conventions, Refn positioned his work as part of “F— the establishment youth culture.”
It was certainly one of the more free-wheeling gatherings with the fourth estate this festival, with Refn peppering his commentary on beauty and desire with a generous helping of four-letter words. When not channeling Sid Vicious, he also took media through the blocking of one of “The Neon Demon’s” more memorable sequences. At one point in the movie, Jena Malone, playing a model, has sex with a corpse.
“It kind of escalated into this really intense necrophilia scene,” said Refn.
At the end of Malone’s stroking and kissing of the dead body, Refn declared to the actress, “We found the character. Now go with God.”