Neon Flesh (2012) – Movie Review





The adventures of Ricky, his mom and his dopey, but lovable friends plays out against the backdrop of human trafficking, police corruption and organized crime.  Ricky  (Mario Casas) is a street hustler and we meet him at the end of the story, which it turns out, is the beginning of the movie.  A little trite, yes I’ll give you that, but the movie starts out at the bottom of a steep incline and only gets better from there until you’re laughing, crying and ultimately wincing at the inevitable, graphic violence.

Ricky’s a tough kid who was deeply affected when his mother Pura (Angela Molina), abandoned him as a child while she worked as a prostitute, the only profession she had ever known.  As it turns out, Pura’s getting out of jail soon and Ricky has been preparing for this for a long time.  He’s been working, doing some low-level hustling and selling drugs, but more importantly, he’s been saving diligently.  Ricky plans on using his hard-earned cash to open a brothel just like his mother had always dreamed of.  He wants to make her happy and make her proud.  He’s noble and you can’t help but like the kid from the get go.

Together with his friends Angelito (Vicente Romero) and Niño (Luciano Cáceres), Ricky finds girls to work his newly established Club Hiroshima and they’re off to a running start. Progress comes to a screeching halt; however, when Ricky picks up his mother from prison and realizes that she now suffers from Alzheimer’s and doesn’t know him from a can of paint.  Ricky is then forced to convince his mother thathe is the son she gave up long ago and prove to her that he still exists and he just wants her to love him again.

Despite this rather heavy aspect of the story line, the movie is funny.  Angelito serves up the laughs and he does it well.  Overall the humor is lowbrow, but it cuts and renders the main characters completely relatable.    The standout on the comedic side is Infanta (Dámaso Conde) a transsexual prostitute with dreams of movie stardom and who is one sex-change operation away from her goal.  Infanta provides the sincere chuckles that pair flawlessly with the hard nature of the story and setting.

Ricky and his mother Pura have a strong connection that cannot be denied despite his mother’s efforts.  The emotion that passes through their stares is alarmingly painful and touching.  There is a softer side to the movie that must be experienced in contrast with the grit and violence in order to make it relatable and interesting.  The characters serve as swizzle sticks in this cinematic cocktail, stirring up the goodness and creating an intoxicating concoction.

Every character in this move has an intriguing and complicated story and this only adds to its appeal.  Neon Flesh is simply, well rounded and well executed.  It’s shot with exaggerated cool and warm hues, which help to intensify emotion.   It also conveys a grit that is deeper than the superficial setting of the seedy Spanish underground.  It’s got a bit of a Guy Ritchie residue on it, but that’s neither bad nor what makes it. I would have liked to see the movie start out differently, however.  The whole Tarantino thing is best done by Tarantino and should be left alone until further notice.  With all that said, it’s wonderful to be knees-deep in a movie and realize that you’re watching something that’s totally your kind of genre and it’s done well –it is invigorating and refreshing to say the least.

I didn’t go in expecting groundbreaking filmmaking and I came away with something more than just a good time.  The stories within–the subplots–add depth and individuality to this movie experience.  If you like fast-paced films with character and don’t mind the graphic violence you’re in for a treat.  Because it’s relevant, jarring and emotive on many levels all at once, it deserves your attention, watch it.


Neon Flesh (2011) – A-

A-= This is a good one and these don’t happen often.  If you’re going to sit there and watch a movie you might as well watch something good regardless of genre and this is one of those movies.  Do it.