Title Aside, Only God Forgives Isn't Spiritually Edifying
- Friday, July 19, 2013
DVD Release Date: October 22, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: July 19, 2013
Rating: Rated R for strong bloody violence including grisly images, sexual content and language
Genre: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Run Time: 90 minutes
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Yayaying Rhatha, Tom Burke, Gordon Brown
Director Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive) said he wanted to make a film about a man "who wanted to fight God." Viewers should be advised that Refn's god is definitely the lower-case 'g' variety, along the lines of an Old Testament pagan deity who demands child sacrifice and plenty of bloodletting, just two of the sins featured in Only God Forgives.
The man is Julian (Ryan Gosling, The Place Beyond the Pines), an American who runs a Thai boxing ring in Bangkok as a front for his family's thriving international drug trade. He's rich, successful, and respected among his criminal brethren but somehow all that worldly success doesn’t translate to happiness. Julian lives a life of quiet desperation, trying to find comfort in the private, explicit performances of his prostitute "girlfriend" but failing miserably.
Playing the part of "god" in this drama is a cop named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm, The Hangover Part II). While I’m not familiar with the rule of law in Bangkok, it seems safe to say Chang is a law unto himself. He acts as judge, jury, and executioner, described as a man "with the ability to decide what is good or what is evil." Viewers may disagree with some of his rulings. Chang is very much an "eye for an eye" kind of guy, extracting vengeance with excruciating deliberation. Then, after a hard day of inciting others to commit revenge killings and performing a back alley amputation with his handy sword, Chang... goes out for a little karaoke. Apparently nothing takes the taste of blood out of one's mouth like a heartfelt song performed before a stoic audience of underlings.
The third member of this unholy trinity is Julian’s mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), a haggard, chain smoking harpy so bitter and angry she can’t even fake normal behavior. Refn, who wrote and produced the film in addition to directing, calls her character "a combination of Lady Macbeth and Donatella Versace" who embodies "absolute evil." Crystal lashes out at anyone who stands in her way and several just unfortunate enough to be caught in the crossfire. She insists on discussing the relative sizes of her sons' male members in what has to be the most awkward "meet the parents" dinner conversation ever. But then, her relationship with Julian can best be described, in polite company at least, as unnatural. When told about her elder son’s actions—a truly horrific crime that should by rights disgust even the most hardened soul—Crystal’s laconic reply is "I'm sure he had his reasons." Apparently that's the sort of thing one can expect from Refn, who says "the second enemy of creativity, after having 'good taste' is being safe."
Recently on Movies
Have something to say about this article? Leave your comment via Facebook below!
Listen to Your Favorite Pastors
Add Crosswalk.com content to your siteBrowse available content