Friday, July 19, 2013
Only God Forgives (2013)
"Time To Meet The Devil"
Julian, a drug smuggler thriving in Bangkok's criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother's recent death.
Only God Forgives is director's Nicolas Winding Refn follow up to 2011's sleeper hit Drive also starring Ryan Gosling, Refn takes us once again into the underworld but instead of L.A. we're taken half way around the world to Bangkok were things are done a lot different then they are done in the states when it comes to criminal underworld.
Ryan Gosling stars as another stoic character Julian who doesn't have to much to say but lets his facial expressions or lack there of do most of the talking for him, when we first meet Julian he is running boxing fights with his older brother Billy(Tom Burke) who seems to be more in control of operations while Julian is just there to support him.
After a boxing match Billy decides to go out on the town alone looking for a woman or in his case a young girl to have sex after being turned down by a sex trader who won't offer up his young daughter to Billy, he finds himself wondering the streets and comes across a few young girls sitting on the streets, he takes a liking to one of the girls.
The police gets called to the building where Billy is and when they go into a room, they find the young girl dead on the floor and Billy who appears to be covered in blood sitting on the side of the bed, Chang(Vithaya Pansingarm) walks in a looks around, he calls for the owner of the building to enter the room, after an exchange with the man, we find out that the young girl is his daughter and Chang tells the man to do whatever he wants as he and the other police leave.
The man kills Billy and int return is taking by Chang and the other police out to a remote location and Chang cuts off the man right hand telling him "This isn't about your dead daughter, but about your 3 remaining daughters" Julian gets word about what's happen to his brother and goes to find the man who killed him and as he is about to kill him, when he finds out that Chang is the one who ordered the man to kill Billy, which complicates things since Chang is a cop.
As word gets to Julian and Billy's mother Crystal(Kristin Scott Thomas) she comes to town at first happy to see her one remaining son, but quickly becomes upset with him as Julian tells her that he did not kill the man who killed Billy "It's more complicated then that" Crystal decides to have Chang killed herself, but things do not go according to plan.
Only God Forgives is one of those type of movies that come along every so often that leaves you with more questions then answers some times that's a good thing and sometimes it's bad, but Only God Forgives seems to be both for me, one on hand the set designs, camera work, soundtrack, Kristin Scott Thomas are all great, but the pacing, lack of real story, Stoic Ryan Gosling, no real likable characters, Winding Refn's carelessness of character development help bring it down.
Only God Forgives is not a movie for mainstream audiences which in most cases is a good thing but even as a arthouse movie fan or general movie fan this movie really makes one think about just how much of a movie fan they are because its a very pretentious movie with awkward pauses and overdone Ryan Gosling staring either at other characters or his hands threw out the movie.
I don't want to be to critical of the film because for every con there is a pro and vise versa, Kristin Scott Thomas steals the movie as the evil mother who seems to be the reason Julian and even Billy were the way they were when Crystal puts Julian down in front of his girlfriend at dinner lets the viewer in to just what kind of relationship she had with her sons, now for me it's almost implied that Crystal had more then just mother/son relationship with her boys with how she touches Julian and how she speaks about Billy being bigger then Julian. I have no problem with these topics(even though some might) but if Refn would've explored this more then maybe I would've felt more for Julian.
The themes that Refn does explore are more philosophical and religious hence the title, the character of Chang almost seems other worldly with how he seems to almost appear and in one scene disappear into thin air, I read that Refn said that Chang might be the reincarnation of the character One Eye from his previous film Valhalla Rising(which I haven't seen yet, but I will) and on set he would whisper to Vithaya Pansringarm that he is god, In most of his scenes you can see that connection but to a normal movie goer these type of things will fly right over their heads.
Probably one of the better scenes in the movie is the fight scene between Julian and Chang, if there was a better build up to it then it really would've been something to talk about but most of the cons in the movie take away from the pros this scene almost will be forgotten, btw its not really a fight more like a beatdown, I won't say who exactly won you'll have to see the movie for that.
Nicholas Winding Refn is one of the better directors out today but I hope that he will reign in some of his pretentious ways of filmmaking because I don't know if I'll keep sitting threw more of his films that are like this. If your a fan of the over stylized, pretentious, methodical paced films then this is the film for you, I'm really on the fence with this film but I can say I will not be seeing this movie again anytime soon.
Only God Forgives was one of my most anticipated films of 2013 after seeing trailers for it and because I am an Nicholas Windinf Refn, Ryan Gosling fans and really wanted to see Kristin Scott Thomas turn here which I feel after watching is worthy of at least an award nomination I was somewhat let down with what the movie turned out to be, its not a terrible movie but its not a good movie.
Ryan Gosling- Julian
Kristin Scott Thomas- Crystal
Vithaya Pansringarm- Chang
Tom Burke- Billy
Gordon Brown- Gordon
Yayaying Rhatta Phongam- Mai