Not sure whether this is any less obtuse than when I first saw it, but this is still such a stunning rendering of cultural apocalypse, where even the most debased erotic impulses are heightened to biblical allegory. For all its notions of godhood and cosmic intervention, this is a work that accepts that nothing it proposes can be new or original because it resides in a wasteland of archetypes. Every cycle of violence is inevitable and unstoppable, and the only change possible is that of positions: the victim becomes the perpetrator, the perpetrator the victim.
Despite its sweeping assertions on the collapse of modernity, though, this is more solipsistic than anything else, since its concerns with fetishes and fetishisation of violence is a product of the mind arranging its intricate, bloody tableaux. It’s deeply self-absorbed to the extent where it becomes a reflection of the corrupted vision of America it’s depicting- after all, isn’t the foundation upon which America exists one of sublimation within individuality? These are pressing questions, yet at no point does Refn seem even mildly interested in answering them, instead choosing to end this saga on a note of (relative) comfort- that there are no answers except those which we make, telling folk tales and reciting scripture in an endless cycle of resisting human nature.