Film review: Only God Forgives (18)
Ryan Gosling pulls no punches in his latest thriller
Friday 02 August 2013
Having seemed to strip the thriller back to its barest essential elements in their highly stylised 2011 film Drive, Nicolas Winding Refn and Ryan Gosling go one further.
Only God Forgives is a revenge drama without any drama. Instead of what you'd normally call a plot, it has a grisly chain of events into which characters who are little more than mannequins are powerless to intervene. And if you thought that the unnamed driver Gosling played in Drive was impassive and laconic, he's like a Woody Allen character compared to Julien.
Julien is an American who runs a kickboxing club in Bangkok with his brother Billy (Tom Burke), as a front for their mother's drug-smuggling operation. When Billy is killed, the mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) turns up to demand retribution. Julien explains the situation: "Billy raped and killed a 16-year-old girl." And in a line that pretty much sums up the film's attitude to character motivation, she replies: "I'm sure he had his reasons."
Meanwhile, dishing out retribution of his own is a local cop played by Vithaya Pansringarm; an angel of death with a samurai sword. There are karaoke scenes to remind you of David Lynch's Blue Velvet, and ominous tracking shots along hotel corridors that are positively Kubrickian.
The whole film feels like a dream sequence; a woozy, neon-dipped vision of hell where constraints on morality and narrative logic are equally loosened. Judged purely as an exercise in cinematic high-style, it is an unqualified success. But it is almost literally soulless.
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 4 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
- 5 Teen suffers embarrassing wardrobe malfunction in front of deputy PM
Daredevil, Netflix, TV review: Marvel wins first fight in bid for television domination with Charlie Cox's superhero vigilante
London art exhibition features portrait of Iraqi migrant shot dead in Iraq after being refused UK asylum
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns