Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God Forgives (2013)
  • Time: 90 min
  • Genre: Crime | Drama | Thriller
  • Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
  • Cast: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Yayaying


Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian killed a cop and went on the run. Now he manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation. Respected in the criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty. When Julian’s brother murders a prostitute, the police call on retired cop Chang – the Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the father to kill his daughter’s murderer, then ‘restores order’ by chopping off the man’s right hand. Julian’s mother Jenna – the head of a powerful criminal organization – arrives in Bangkok to collect her son’s body. She dispatches Julian to find his killers and ‘raise hell’.


  • Do not spend your money or time on “Only God Forgives”! The movie is as bad as the first 20 minutes. It is really slow paced, jumps from scene to scene, contains barely any dialog and there’s practically no thai-boxing or other good fight scenes. There are shots where there is no movement at all I was sometimes wondering if I was looking at a picture or a film. The characters show little to no emotion and I couldn’t identify myself with one single character. At the end of the day, a movie should be entertaining, this just drags around and goes nowhere. Lame and tedious, boring and victim to its arty attempt to be ‘cool’. Ok, there is Ryan Gosling for the ladies… But still, I have nothing more to say about this movie. A huge disappointment!

  • (Rating: 1,5 / 5) With “Drive” (his arrival at popular knowledge), Winding Refn recycled echoes a well-known movie (“The Driver”), but it was still a very good proposal of comercial action. Isn’t a perfect film, as there were two things that undermine its good intentions: the first was due to the increase of unnecessary violence and tacky (Is it necessary that Gosling will crush the head of a bully in the elevator before his girlfriend?), but the most serious factor was the increase in radical turns as the final battle that was minimalist and protocol (against the attitude of the characters, who previously did not hesitate to shoot without much ceremony) and some strange attitudes as Gosling with a mask. But if “Drive” was 80% very good film, “Only God Forgives” maximize the excessive radicalism of the 20 % of the 2011 film. Here Refn embraces Eastern cinema, but if you do not know very well the Eastern cinema, then Refn embraces the solemnity of David Lynch, but this time the imitation does not come out so well; and brings back to Gosling, who is not a good actor but he is sympathetic and his limited qualities make it very effective in characters deliver beatings and are emotionally amputees

    As director, Winding Refn is much more competent than Lynch. His camera movements are less clumsy and he uses an enviable instrumental, professional photography and optimized cameras. But as artistic values, Refn is not Lynch. The problem of “Only God Forgives” is not its cryptic level, because the film is perfectly accessible: it is an Oedipal allegory in which the protagonist is incapable of being a man. It is bastardized by his mother, he can not kills a person, he can not beats the policeman Chang, can not verbally confront his mother (and vents his anger with his “girlfriend”), maintains an evasive attitude in the physical sexual act. It is the story of an “castrated” individual

    The problem with “Only God Forgive” is that the argument is fairly minimal, and what follows is an exhibition of images and sequences that contain nothing. Make no mistake, this is not “Gravity”, where a minumum plot and then a lot of adrenaline and stress situations, but Refn follows the footsteps of David Lynch or Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: Space Odyssey” without a continuous argument. “Only God Forgives” is quite solemn as it was the first hour of “Mulholland Drive”, but while Lynch had trouble moving from one sequence to another with less slowly, at least he was developing an argument and no interspersed nonsense images. “Only God Forgives” is closer to the film “Around the World in 80 Days” where there were nearly 5 whole minutes showing scenes and images with nothing to say. Actually if you look well the problem is not that the argument does not advance, but over-stylization by Refn is very elaborate, the idea of “depth” by Refn is that actors maintain an impassive face and walk like robots (you see: they walking linearly), which makes the film is forgettable: the villain Chang poses no threat to the viewer, no actor moves many eyes and eyebrows (except the dinner scene)

    The violent scenes are pretty good and better sense of taste than “Drive” , but the Katana sequences are not very impressive its suggestion of not show anything; for other hand the torture scene with chopsticks is more ingenious than, say, the porno gore of “Imprint” . However, aesthetically the film seems a bit outdated. Both violence and red pronounced / dark black suffers from arty over-stylization, are visual wonders but not too edgy, as belong more in the time of the film “Sin City” or “Dick Tracy” . In the film, the hallways are oppressive due to the decision that the cameras are not widescreen, achieving a sense of “concentration” or asphyxiation

    And while the film shows a lot and says nothing (because the argument is not cryptic to viewers say, “Well, this image must mean something”), “Only God Forgives” shows its limitations with cheap metaphors that have reserved. Here’s a great scene where his mother insults his son (Julian) on the dinner, and he listens the humiliation with a smile, as if he were expecting it or at least simulating some festive atmosphere to not feel embarrassed in front of his “girlfriend ” (Mai). The bastardization is that his mother believes the brother Billy is more competent than Julian to take a violent decision, and between this rant, the mother says the phallus of Julian’s brothers possibly is much larger than him. It is a very well designed sequence, a humiliation that puts the film in the center of the Oedipal theme from the point of view of Western (personal duels of the individual) , but here the genres are diluted. But if this scene is very good, the other metaphors are not very inspired: We have a boxing match between Julian and Chang (good and evil, the end of the hesitation that suffers the protagonist), which is too ceremonial against the expedited nature of these individuals (a defect that occurred in “Drive” and we mentioned in first paragraph), plus it is not very original, because one has seen these minimalist clashes since “Platoon” to “Lethal Weapon 1”. But other rarer metaphors involve Chang cutting off Julian hands. Perhaps it could mean that Julian lacks initiative (the hands are a work item, so are a personal initiative symbol; in fact the movie makes efforts to show the hands of the characters), but How do we justify that Julian has visions? How do we justify the protagonist meets Chang before seeing it in reality? How do we justify some of the scenarios for these hallucinations? Another metaphors involves Chang singing after killing every person (the opposite pole between happiness / sadism ), which is an echo of “Blue Velvet”. And the most bizarre metaphor is Julian penetrating the womb of his dead mother, as an Oedipal symbol. If you were in real life a boy traumatized by the Oedipus complex, Do you touch your mother’s womb symbolically? It’s stupid, when this metaphor could have been done in a more sophisticated way. So “Only God Forgives” is arrogant author film, fully sealed separate from what’s happening in the mainstream or in the underground. It is crammed with obvious metaphors, covered with many contemplative images

  • Time to Meet The Devil.

    Set in Bangkok’s criminal underworld a drug-smuggler, Julian (Ryan Gosling) finds his life getting harder and more complicated when his mother demand he find the killer of his brother.

    Firstly I’d like to start by saying Only God Forgives is nothing like 2011’s Drive, and it’s most defiantly not a sequel to it. Here we have one of those rare movies where the audience is force to think for themselves. Most films pretend the audience is dumb so they spoon feed you everything; if you’re a fan of that then this film is not for you.

    I’m not going to lie, when the credits rolled on this film the first thing I thought was “WHY?” and “My god that was trash” but it’s one of those films that stick with you, overnight I kept thinking about the movie and slowly my brain started to decode it so to speak.

    Read the full review here –

  • It’s “Drive” situated in Bangkok

    Refn wants to show clearly what he’s good in. Namely bringing a simple story to a higher level by stylistic and artistic tricks . As with “Drive” there is a lot of commotion about this movie and there are pro’s and contra’s of this movie. Refn apparently seems to be a huge fan of David Lynch. Some will consider it as a work of art . Others will qualify it more as complete nonsense and a waste of time when you watch this movie . My opinion lies in between those two and consider it as a great achievement to make an artistic tale of a meaningless story. The intellectual movie audience obviously will give a standing ovation for this one and it will lead to all kinds of theories and opinions. Think long enough about it and you’ll discover a deeper philosophical content with appropriate symbolism . If you don’t think about it too long, it is actually an empty box with careful attention to the correct ISO settings and lenses that were used .

    Without a doubt , most images are aesthetically pleasing with its esoteric , neon exposures and the numerous moments where the characters are looking silently around. However, most passages are sometimes so absurd and hilarious. The sequence of a murder , the revenge of the daughters father and a Karaoke bar, in that order, gave me on one side a wondering impression , and on the other hand, I could not suppress shaking my head, chuckling . The karaoke is reused a few times in this movie. I’m still wondering what the symbolic value this has.

    When you look at the characters it seems like a bunch of autistic persons , who react in the most unnatural way to situations ,take their time to give a meaningful response and after that start staring at an infinite point. Each of them master the best “Bold and the Beautiful”-staring technique. Gosling is actually a duplicate of his character in “Drive” . A silent person with the empathy of a good working American fridge . The news about the death of his brother, not even makes a small change in his facial expression . The fact that he’s actually totally harassed and ignored by his mother , raises the same dispassionate attitude .

    The entire movie is a concatenation and a secure editing of fragments with lots of neon light and proportional masterfully placed image impressions . A snapshot of a belt , a beautiful oriental girl behind red fluorescent beads , a flash of bodybuilders , a karaoke bar , at the ceiling staring people …. Take all the moments away where someone meaningless stares at the horizon , and you keep a simple revenge story of roughly 20 minutes.

    To make it acceptable for a larger audience you throw some bloody fragments in it and a realistic, lively fight where Gosling end up with a rather damaged face.

    In short : a simple revenge story held together by arty interventions . In my view, not such a work of art as it should appear to be.

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