Only God ForgivesClosed Captioning
Nicolas Winding Refn
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Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn (DRIVE) are back with this visionary Bangkok-set thriller. Kingpin Julian (Gosling) avenges his brother's killer, while a mysterious, unhinged policeman follows his every move.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 149
- Fresh: 59
- Rotten: 90
- Average Rating: 5.1/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Rotten: Where Drive shrewdly mystifies, Only God Forgives stupefies. You can see its gears grinding. But I'll always hang on for a rare talent like Refn. Even when he stumbles, he leaves you eager to see what he's up to next.
Rotten: Refn's nerve is admirable, even if his film often borders on unwatchable.
Rotten: What makes it high art? The fact that it happens really slowly, I think, or that it's interspersed with patience-testing camera pans of wallpaper.
Fresh: This is one of the most shocking and one of the best movies of the year.
DON'T EXPECT ANOTHER "DRIVE" HERE
Ever since I first saw "Drive" back in 2011, which I personally consider to be the best film of that entire year, I've quickly become a big fan of director Nicolas Winding Refn. With his terrific blend of mesmerizing visuals and graphic, stomach-churning violence, it's clear that the man's hyper-stylized movies are solely meant for the art house crowd, which is why I just couldn't wait to see his latest film, "Only God Forgives." Based on its anticipated re-pairing of the filmmaker and star Ryan Gosling alone, I was truly excited to see how this film would stack up against Refn's previous masterpiece from two years ago. Well, I got my answer. And I'll say this: it's okay. I mean, the movie isn't terrible or anything, but it's certainly not as great as I had hoped it would be. Sure, it's a dark, twisted, erotic, surreal, and brutally vicious film with hypnotically stunning cinematography. But even though the elements are there, they're never once used to their full potential. The plot here is pretty simple. Julian (Gosling), a well-respected figure in the dark criminal underworld of Bangkok, runs a Thai boxing club and smuggling ring with his brother Billy (Tom Burke). Billy is suddenly murdered, though, and their ruthless crime lord matriarch Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from London to bring back the body. When she forces taciturn Julian to avenge his brother's vicious death, he soon finds himself in the ultimate life-or-death showdown. The performances here, while not bad in any way, do often leave a lot to be desired. As the main lead, Gosling pretty much does the same brooding impression of his "Drive" character, emulating the grim tone and vibe of both films in a way that feels rather dull and tired at this point. Thomas, while uncomfortably entertaining as Julian's ruthlessly vengeful mother, tries her best to enliven the script with her insanely vulgar, unintentionally hilarious dialogue, but often to no avail. There's also an old, mysterious policeman (Vithaya Pansringarm) in the flick who follows our hero's every move, and I just never really found him all that interesting to say the least, although his fights with Gosling are often very well choreographed. More than anything, the biggest highlights of this film are all the striking, neon-soaked images. Every scene is so immaculately framed and beautifully detailed, you'd swear you were watching a gritty painting just come to life right before your eyes. The brilliant score by Cliff Martinez also succeeds in giving the movie its own edgy, unique quality at times. That being said, it still has its glaring faults, none of which any of the visceral visuals can cover up. Throughout its short run time (only 90 minutes), "Only God Forgives" mostly wanders through the threadbare story like it's insignificant, putting much more focus on style than substance. Because of that, the film fails to give us any reason as to why we should care about these strange, soulless characters. Even the gruesome fight sequences, despite their feral beauty and atmosphere, simply feel viciously over-the-top for the sake of being viciously over-the-top. There's really nothing human to be found here. So in the end, I'd have to say the film just felt like more of a bizarre disappointment than a true accomplishment. If I could grade it based on atmospheric visuals and terrific art direction alone, it'd get five stars for sure. But due to Refn's troublesomely detached script and flat characters, "Only God Forgives" never truly manages to make the same forceful impact that "Drive" did. Nonetheless, if you're a huge fan of art house flicks and would enjoy a film that's more dedicated to delivering gorgeous gore than emotionally strong storytelling, it's at least worth a rent.
God may forgive me for having this as one of my most anticipated films of 2013; but I sure won't. Everyone who booed this movie, I salute you.
Time To Meet The Devil
On it's own level completely. If Kubrick, Lynch, and Hitchcock had a baby this would be it. And of course Ryan is amazing in the film. I haven't seen a mother/son relationship this insane since Psycho.