Only God Forgives
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam
Directed by: Nicolas Winding Refn
Run Time: 90 minutes
Genre: Crime/ Drama/ Thriller
Opens July 19th
By Lisa Minzey of The Reel Critic.com
Ryan Gosling teams back with “Drive” director for another go at a dark indie film. From the man behind such films as “Bronson” and “Drive”, Nicolas Winding Refn has built a fan base for his raw, visualistic insight into deeply disturbed characters. “Only God Forgives” is no exception but will audiences be eager to embrace his latest film?
Brothers Julian (Ryan Gosling) and Billy (Tom Burke) have been living in Bangkok for the past few years, mainly that one of them is hiding from a past crime. Neither brother is a saint as the film slowly unveils that their adolescent years were not empowering or functional. When Billy ends up raping a teenage girl and is killed over the crime, Julian is compelled to track down his killer, seeking vengeance on the crooked, ninja sword wielding cop, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm).
Upon hearing of her son’s death, crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) rolls into town to collect the body and to conduct some business during her visit. Her presence in town set Julian into a quiet panic as Crystal’s hold on him reveals more into Julian’s psyche and personality. Crystal demands that Julian kills Chang and refuses any other outcome, but Chang is a resourceful man in his profession. It becomes a game of cat and mouse in this psychological thriller where blood will be spilled, but who will be the victor?
Unlike “Bronson” or “Drive”, which had proper story arcs, great character development and interesting premises, “Only God Forgives” is a jumbled mess of a film that moves along at a snails pace for story delivery. Albeit deeply dark and disturbing, leaving little to the imagination for violence, torture and sexual innuendo, the character set up takes forever to get to the point, leaving Gosling and Pansringarm to aimlessly wander slowly around town, or in Pansringarm’s case, break into song randomly in karaoke scenes that seemed irrelevant to the story. Kristin Scott Thomas’s Crystal, from the outward appearance, is a cross between Donatella Versace and a hooker drag queen, but her delivery is malevolent and psychotic. She is a solid contender to be on the list as one of the worst movie movie mothers of all time, giving Faye Dunaway in “Mommie Dearest” a run for her money. If anything, the cinematography is quite lovely and artistic on this film, the lighting painting the sets with emotion that the characters’ flatline on. “Only God Forgives” opens in theaters starting Friday July 19, 2013.