Only God Forgives

After having seen ‘Drive’ when it came out I felt like I had to see other movies made by the same director, which lead me to to discover Nicolas Winding Refn, who to this day is still one of my favorite directors. After finding out he was the force behind drive, I went back and saw some of his previous efforts such as ‘Valhalla Rising’ and ‘Bronson.’ I was not disappointed.

Needless to say when I heard that Refn was going to direct another movie with Ryan Gosling (one of my favorite actors) titled, ‘Only God Forgives’ set in Thailand and revolving around of a family of drug dealers, I was sold.

The trailers looked amazing for the movie and the bits of the sound track from Cliff Martinez, who also did the sound track for Drive. I was stoked to see it. I even convinced some friends to see it with me at the local Alamo Drafthouse.

Upon first viewing I didn’t know what to think. I wasn’t really sure what I had just seen or what had just happened, but was totally blown away by Refn’s aesthetics in the movie.

Even though Ryan Gosling never looked so cool, I just had a hard time following it. A lot of things just didn’t make sense to me. What did his brother Billy mean when he said, “It’s time to meet the devil?” before he went off and killed an underaged prostitute. Why did Gosling’s Julian have visions of Chang before he had even met the man, let alone why was he having visions of him in the first place? What what was the deal with Kristen Scott Thomas as the mother? I definitely got some incest vibes off of her. Like a lot of movies I really feel like this movie should have spent a little less time with weird set pieces of either Julian watching prostitutes masturbate or the scenes that we don’t even know are real or not and focused on developing the characters and story a little more. I felt like they’d give you these little hits of back story that should partly explain what’s currently happening, but not enough to actually explain it. Frankly I feel like a lot of films should take that advice.

All of that being said I think that ‘Only God Forgives’ is still a good movie. I don’t think it was appreciated as much as it should have been when released, nor do I feel it’s as appreciated now as it should be. I will admit that it is definitely a style over substance movie, but at the same time I feel that there is a depth below the surface that takes multiple viewings to watch.

Even though a great plot might not be present, there are still a lot of beautifully shot scenes and subtext to take in. I think it’s a great neo-noir film with a lot of old kung-fu type influences and is worth the rewatch.

Let me know what you think!