REVIEW: Only God Forgives

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When we heard that Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling were teaming up for another project we couldn’t help but get excited. But when Only God Forgives premiered at Cannes to a room full of boos, a little ounce of concern overcame us. Apparently now that the movie has come out, the roar of boos haven’t changed.

Only God Forgives stars Ryan Gosling as Julian, a drug dealing/boxing gym owner/sex club frequent/ little brother/ mamma’s boy. Be warned, if you want to see this only because you think Ryan Gosling is super hot, I can tell you, you probably will not like this. Gosling rarely speaks in the movie and often goes about in an emotionless daze. Not to mention, the movie is heavily doused in violence.

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Now, if you saw this movie and gave it a bad rating because of the violence, you should be punched by Ryan Gosling himself. Do you really not look into the movies that you watch? Honestly, see a trailer, read a review, call your grandma, because she probably is smarter than you. The film wastes no time before introducing the audience to fist fights, blood, and glass bottles in the head. Chang, a Thai Cop (Vithaya Pansringarm), keeps a long sword just in case he needs to puncture a hole in someone’s neck, or make a little slit up a man’s belly. He also doesn’t have a problem with punching your lights out or sticking long needles into guy’s hands. And when the day is all said and done, he’ll stop for a little song or two.

What often intrigued me throughout the film were Julian and Crystal’s (Kristen Scott Thomas) mother and son relationship. It was—like Refn described—that Crystal hypnotizes Julian into doing whatever he can’t or won’t do, when taking care of the brother’s killer. Crystal seems to fly in on her broom and swears that Julian was jealous of his brother. And if you wonder why he takes it, “It’s because she’s my mother,” Julian says.

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There are a few other elements that stood out. For instance, the cinematography in this film was fantastic. I loved the way this film looked from start to finish. If you think that this movie looks at all like a Kubrick film, well you’re on the right page. Cinematographer Larry Smith (Barry Lyndon, The Shining, Eyes Wide Shut) gives each setting a certain persona. The cinematography along with Cliff Martinez’ score made for an artistic film.

Only God Forgives is a brilliant movie that has so much more than just potential. With the cinematography, camera movement, and music, this makes for one of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a while. Nicolas Winding Refn threw some big punches, but in the end he fell a tad short of perfect. The story wants to progress in a mystifying manner, but seems to just progress too slow, which then just left me wanting more of an explanation. This film definitely didn’t deserve the many boos, and over time it will be appreciated for what it’s worth. Though this film has its flaws, I definitely enjoyed it.

What are your thoughts? Agree? Don’t agree? Wanna set my review on fire? Let me know what you think!

RATING: B

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