July 21, 2013

Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God Forgives (2013)
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Country: Denmark / Thailand / others

Review: After the perfectly balanced “Drive”, Nicolas Winding Refn returns murkier than ever with “Only God Forgives”, an immoderately violent and tasteless film, which not even Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas could save. The story centers on Julian (Gosling), a respected drug dealer who operates in Thailand’s underworld, and whose brother was murdered after having raped and killed a 16-year-old girl. That’s when their mother, Jenna (Thomas) arrives in Bangkok to take her son’s body with her, but not without demanding a proper revenge. Her cold and calculative character shocked me through statements and behaviors. This very dark case also involves an enigmatic cop (Vithaya Pansringarm) with a special ability to sing, a sort of punisher who knows everything and loves to make justice with his machete. “Only God Forgives” had so much potential to become a great film but it isn’t in fact. As usual, the dark mood that distinguishes Refn’s works is well done, and Larry Smith’s cinematography gives an authentic lesson on image composition filled with predominant hues of saturated red and yellow, but these aspects were completely turned down by extreme scenes of violence and torture, which became simply unbearable to watch. This is a macabre story filled with immoral excesses, with the exclusive goal of affecting us through pain and darkness. A dreadful and sadistic experience.

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