tue 18/06/2019

Cannes 2019: Too Old to Die Young - nightmarish LA noir | reviews, news & interviews

Cannes 2019: Too Old to Die Young - nightmarish LA noir

Cannes 2019: Too Old to Die Young - nightmarish LA noir

'Neon Demon' director Nicolas Winding Refn turns to TV with Miles Teller

Miles Teller as the brooding LA County Sheriff Martin

This year, Cannes has been adamantly defending traditional cinema, with more than a few jibes at Netflix (who remain persona non grata at the festival), but that hasn’t stopped them screening two episodes of Nicolas Winding Refn’s new Amazon TV series, Too Old To Die Young. Refn has gone on record stating that his latest project is still cinema — a 13-hour film that shows all the verve and ambition you’d expect from the Danish auteur. If these two episodes are anything to go by, his argument is more than believable.

Episodes four and five might seem an odd choice to screen at the world-renowned festival. Fortunately, they operate almost like a self-contained two-hour-plus film. All the signature Refn elements are there: a trippy, synth-heavy score from Cliff Martinez; high contrast lighting; and moments of shocking, bloody violence.

Like Neon Demon, the setting (as the title implies) is Los Angeles with a detour to the deserts of New Mexico. But don’t expect a lot of glorious sunshine – Refn is a creature who prefers the night for his action to play out.Miles Teller in Too Old to Die YoungAs well as drawing on his own body of work, with clear nods to Pusher and Only God Forgives, there’s also a touch of Tarantino with Lynchian elements. At the heart of the story is Martin (Miles Teller, pictured above), an LA county sheriff who moonlights, via an underground organisation, as a Ronin who removes the morally bankrupt of society. Teller comes across as a protean Ryan Gosling from Drive, his performance laced with brooding silences and middle-distance stares, offering up a brand of masculinity we have come to associate with Refn’s work.

The world Refn creates is a surreal blend of ukulele-playing fascist cops, Yakuza money lenders, and repugnant porn producers. We watch on as Martin stalks the night, slaying those who’ve escaped the law in scenes of blood-splattered violence. When Martin discovers he has been sent to kill someone who is late on their payments to a loan shark, he turns on his employers, demanding they give him information on the worst targets, whom he’s happy to take out for free. This leads him to Albuquerque on a mission to assassinate two brothers who run a brutal porn ring.

Too Old To Die Young is a rapturous, nightmarish noir, ultimately concerned with examining a society in moral decay. This is Refn’s Decline and Fall of the American Empire and shows, in his own stylised manner, that when society collapses, it takes a gun-wielding cowboy to right the wrongs. What the rest of the series has to offer we can only wait and see, but this taster is more than enough to get excited about.

@JosephDAWalsh

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