Only God Forgives – Review

Starring Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas, Nicholas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives failed to meet audiences’ expectation after his critically-acclaimed work Drive. I’ve read so many negative reviews about it from Cannes. But the woozy, stylish vibe still immensely intrigued me. So when I saw there is a advanced screening in LA, I hopped in my car and drove 14 miles without a second thought.

Ok here’s some interesting thing about LA: there were dozens of people already queued up for the movie when I arrived. “Perhaps only in LA and NYC can you see so many people lining up for an indie movie like Only God Forgives. Thank god I’m here early.” I posted this on my Chinese Twitter. Some comments came up in a few minutes, one is particularly funny and partly true and I can’t resist sharing here: “Well I guess most LA moviegoers are there to see Ryan Gosling, whereas those in NYC are genuine indie film supporters.”

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Back to the movie, this is something that you either love it, or hate it. Winding is so obsessed with his own world, only this time, he couldn’t care less about how audiences feel– not a surprise if you read some interviews about this quirky, taciturn mama’s boy. This is a film about himself– a protagonist who has Oedipus complex, fantasize sexual relationship about a prostitute. The brutal violent scenes and endless metaphors of his sexual delusion. There are some explorations of law and justice, but they are somewhat attenuated by the overwhelmingly mesmerizing visuals and soundtrack. I don’t normally like this kind of movie– same reason I was never a huge fan of Wong Kar-wai, but Only God Forgives really moved me… well I admit it’s partly because I do love Ryan Goslin, but it’s more because the subtlety and distinctive emotional aura. Also, although it filled with dreamy, sometimes claustrophobic long shots, the violent scenes are extremely sharp and intense, rendering a more unique vibe to the film.

Overall, this is an enjoyable cinematic experience for me, but I won’t recommend it to others– this is not the Drive 2 you’ve been waiting for.