Only God ForgivesCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Two years ago, Nicolas Winding Refn won the Cannes Film Festival’s Best Director award for Drive, also starring Ryan Gosling. This year, no standing ovation, but an audience highly divided about his new feature, Only God Forgives.
American brothers, Julian and Billy live in Bangkok. After Billy savagely rapes and murders a girl, her father kills him, with the approval of the Thai police. Their mother, Crystal, the head of a vast criminal organization, arrives from the US to collect her favourite son’s body. Her vow of vengeance will slowly destroy Julian’s life, among many others. Meanwhile, Chang, a retired cop idolised by his colleagues, decides to wield his own brand of justice.
Violence is the driving force of this movie – as always in Winding Refn’s work. Characters are tortured, don’t seem to be capable of any kind of love, and express their frustration by acting on their torments. Hands are cut, eyes are pierced and throats are lacerated, all accompanied by sweet Thai songs revolving on themes of lost love. The movie’s strength lies in the hypnotic effect of such relentless violence depicted in oneiric images, inviting the spectator into a world of philosophical illusions and radical poesy. The director reinvents cinematographic codes, delivering a feature as brutal as it is neutral. He becomes a disturbing artist who says less to convey more.
Ryan Gosling, who tots up 12 sentences in 90 minutes, successfully brings sorrow and loneliness to his character. Kristin Scott Thomas, however, is the real power behind the movie, with yellow hair and biting replies that light up the feature with an all-new level of veracity.
Only God Forgives is released on 2nd August 2013.
Watch the trailer for Only God Forgives here: