ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013)

Written & Directed: Nicolas Winding Refn 
Cinematography By: Larry Smith 
Editor: Matthew Newman 

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam, Tom Burke


I couldn’t wait for director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to DRIVE. In a weird way, this is kind of what I expected and hoped it wouldn’t be.

The Film stays in his style. A little story to speak of, Ryan Gosling is like a mannequin as he is silent mainly expressionless, and feels like a stand-in for a character. He also stares a lot which if you have a crush on him is great. The film is over-indulgent and pretentious. I still liked it but wouldn’t call it good. It’s a revenge tale and an eastern western with despicable characters and the villain is murderous but honorable. Ryan Gosling seems to be a pawn. Though it does have a stillness and slow-motion without an actual slow-motion effect in-camera.

I liked the production design and the camera work. It becomes obvious with each new film that Refn doesn’t really care about the story or plot. It seems for him to be all about moments and having the central figure be kind of a surrogate for him and his fantasies. Though I will say his films have a fetishistic quality to them. Which does well as his characters are plainly one-dimensional which makes them simple to figure out, but it seems like some of the actors namely its lead thinks there is something more to him.

I believe he has an overabundant amount of skills to make a film vividly and well, but like other directors who excel at visuals, it seems recently they have a hard time telling a contained sort without it seeming to leap into indulgence. Nicolas Winding Refn when listening to his interviews about his films makes them sound so Interesting and symbolic then when you see them, you feel lost like everything in it means something though never fully explained. Allowing you to read into it what you will. He reminds me of an abstract artist though his work is more understandable where there is supposedly an idea behind everything or at least a theme yet he leaves you to figure it out. Or it’s based on some theme he thought up that you never really see or figure out fully.

It doesn’t help that though he is a little extreme the supposed villain of the film is the character you like the most as he seems to be the only one doing the right thing.

This film is filled with morals and codes every main hacker seems to live by one of the ones who don’t seem to get slaughtered.

As most of the film is silent as far as dialogue, The score by Cliff Martinez is heaven-sent as it set’s the mood of the scenes and it seems of the character as they trail through this neon wasteland. The score accompanies them and is more of a guide than the script or action on-screen at times.

The film is shockingly violent for the audience high not the director if you follow his work. Though shockingly this is one of his least violent as most of his films deal with lurid lifestyles that have the promise of violence they are usually lightweight in the gore department except for Valhalla rising. Though in his films he treats violence as an everyday normal thing at least to the characters.

Kristin Scott Thomas has the best scenes as the cruelest mother ever put to film who is heartless through and through. Crystal, Julian’s mother, is modeled after Shakespeare’s character Lady Macbeth and Fashion Designer Donatella Versace.

The film sets up a strange oedipal situation that is never clearly defined but slightly disturbing.

The action that sets this whole film in motion seems rather random we never get to know the reasons the action took place, maybe it was living high on the hog he felt he can do or have whatever he wanted. Maybe his soul had grown so empty he needed to do vile things to feel alive or top himself. Either way, a senseless act leads to swift and complicated justice and sworn revenge though we more see it from the crooked side.

Nicolas Winding Refn included karaoke in the film because he found out that, unlike in the west, karaoke was almost religious for Thai people.

Nicolas Winding Refn got the idea for the film while his wife was pregnant with their second daughter. He felt very existentialistic and felt he had much anger and violence in him, but did not know how to let it out. Suddenly he had the idea that the definite person to hold all the answers to existential questions and life’s problems where God and imagined himself having a physical fight with God.

Nicolas Winding Refn got the idea for the film while his wife was pregnant with their second daughter. He felt very existentialistic and felt he had much anger and violence in him, but did not know how to let it out. Suddenly he had the idea that the definite person to hold all the answers to existential questions and life’s problems where God and imagined himself having a physical fight with God.

The film rationalizes their acts by seems to let the audience forget head are horrible people. The only one with partly a soul is gosling’s character. He seems ambivalent and sedate through most of the film and lots of closes up’s on his hands. He seems more forced into seeking revenge hen actually wanting it. The. As he sees the tolls of it and how deep he Is getting, he starts to question his role in all of this. This is all in the film but the film seems to go out of its way to be vague. Luke Evans was originally cast in the lead role but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts with the Hobbit. Ryan Gosling replaced him.

Ryan Gosling looks good in his minimalist wardrobe, but not much is asked of him, his long lingering gazes and stares are how you feel in the audience hoping there is something on the horizon to save the film. There is a bunch of symbolism, filters ad neon to represent the mood and underworld out in the open.

I did enjoy that the fight scene wasn’t the unbelievable epic we are lead to believe will happen. It’s brutal and one-sided. I have to admit it’s a guilty pleasure that I would watch again just for the surreal craziness that seems to be going on, just not explained.

SPOILER

It was Ryan Gosling’s idea to open the stomach of Julian’s dead mother. He had it after director Nicolas Winding Refn asked him if he’d rather smile or cry after Julian’s mom’s death. He replied that he’d open her uterus to see what’s inside.

SPOILER END

There is something very haunting about the film. It is original and unforgettable in many ways both positive and negative. Needless to say, i am sure many people want to see this. Trust me no rush.

GRADE: C

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