Only God Forgives Reviews
Let me try to explain the film the best I can cause the narrative isn't really straight forward. The movie is about a man named Julian (Ryan Gosling) and his brother Billy (Tom Burke) who run a fighting dojo in Bangkok. They are also a powerful family that deals drugs with the help of their mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas). One night Billy goes off and commits violent acts which eventually leads to his death. Lt Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) is a highly respected police officer who Crystal believes is Billy's killer. She then goes on this revenge path to find Lt Chang and kill him.
That is the best way I can summarize the film without really spoiling it. One thing I will mention is that the film is about vengeance from both Crystal and Lt Chang. Ryan Gosling who is the main character in this film is mostly on the sideline of things. He goes through this nightmarish journey that isn't all coherent but eventually he gets tied into the mess that's going on.
The characters in this film are entirely bad people, even Gosling's character. They have little emotion and focus on violence and revenge. Some might say they are all cardboard but I believe they are like that for a reason. Ryan Gosling plays a subdued character even more than in "Drive". He has only like 17 lines or so in the whole movie. It's hard to read into him but he is indeed a bad person. That being said, I think he is the most likable but that's probably cause he is Ryan Gosling. Another character in the film is LT Chang who views himself as a god. He is respected, violent, and fair. I say fair because he believes an eye for an eye he doesn't just kill people randomly. I think Vithaya Pansringarm played him very well. The last character that stands out is Crystal who is a bitch. I don't mean to be that blunt but that who she is. She is controlling and aggressive and believes she will get what she wants.
The visuals in the film are even better than in "Drive". It's so gorgeous under neon lights and it's beautifully well shot angles. There are many scenes where Jullian is having these dreamlike visons and that's where the visuals really pop out. I said before I am a sucker for visuals and this is no exception. I am loving the look of this film.
Another thing that sticks out of this film is the violence. Refn has been known to make violent films but this film is over the top. Its enough to get people to turn it off or run away. There is something very disturbing about its violent contant that I cant quite put my finger on it. Lets just say its very gory, dark, and disturbing.
So whats my final thoughts for this film? It's great and I loved it. The thing is not everyone will see it like I do. Your either gonna love it or hate it. What I see in this film is that it's a portrait of violence and revenge. It keeps its characters dark because that's what its about. It's a nightmare and its hard to find anything good in a nightmare and that's what it shows. I love Refn's direction and boldness and the ability to create something original. Just remember that when you go into this movie remind yourself this is not "Drive", otherwise your gonna hate it.
The sequences and the shots are very long and even the smllest movement is over-emphasized.
All this makes this story about Bangkok's drug life very stylish.
Good lighting though.
Like the girls in the club, I had to close my eyes when the violence got too bloody.
The whole time I was thinking, Nicolas Winding Refn could make a perfect Mortal Kombat movie, if only he new how to pick up the pace a little.
Only God Forgives is an almost fantasy-like tale, set in Bangkok, of the criminal underground system that dwells within. When Julian's (Ryan Gosling) brother is killed, he must deal with the consequences in any means possible.
Only God Forgives is a bizarre one for me. I've been wanting to watch this for bloody ages. You apparently either Love this film or Hate it's guts. I like to think I'm in somewhat of a middle ground leaning towards affection.
The good? Only God Forgives is an aesthetically pleasing affair. There is no denying that Refn has a keen visual eye as demonstrated in Drive. The acting for the most part is decent, especially from Vithaya Pansringarm, who plays the character Chang. His presence with ominous and tremendously effective. The Gore was also relevant to the overall story I thought, added a lot to it's narration on God versus the Devil and how sex, family and crime add to the skewedness of a murder case. The most impressive part of Only God Forgives is definitely how it embraces it's Asian mythology in a sense, the unconventionality suited it's deep-rooted tradition and respect for combat as reflected in oriental culture from Thailand. This is a fimmakers handbook, I respect that wholy.
The bad? Nicolas Winding Refn, I loved Drive, but this film is reluctant in some aspects. You do not need to hold the shot for too long, we understand the visual metaphor but when you hold it for ages it comes of anile, tedious and pretentious. The pace is comparative to watching your grandparents use a computer for the first time. Also, Ryan Gosling is absolutely wasted here. Sure, he has a couple moments to demonstrate his majesty in violence, but it feels like he's in so little of this movie that there is nothing worth making him part of this picture. It dragged what could've been a tight and dynamic thriller/horror showcase on Thai culture, but it's dragginess and waste of possibility whacks this movie across the head.
All in all, Only God Forgives is worth studying, it's a shiftingly entertaining piece with some great religious and spiritualistic comments to make, but Refn over milks it with no apology. It can come across as brave to some, but for me, it mostly came across as pompous. Slightly. Otherwise, give Only God Forgives some love, it's not worthy of it's critical hate. However it's neither worthy of the 'masterpiece' honour. It's just....marginally beyond adequate.
I have booked a ticket for the premiere of Refn's next film, 'The Neon Demon' showing next Wednesday and for definite this movie got me wondering what else he has in store. That is, if I pass for an 18 year old!
Ryan Gosling (just about) stars in 'Only God Forgives', which whilst being a visual treat for your eyes, is simply too abstract and too bizarre for its own good. However, the movie is so beautiful to look at, you can't help but marvel at its craftsmanship.