Sunday 15 September 2013

Review: Only God Forgives

World of Blackout Film Review

Only God Forgives Poster

Only God Forgives
Cert: 18 / 90 mins / Dir. Nicolas Winding Refn

Now I'll openly admit that I read the plot synopsis for Only God Forgives on the film's Wiki page before I went to the cinema this evening. After the trouble I had with Drive*1, I felt the need to be fully informed before watching, and frankly I'm glad I did. It never gets to absolute crisis-point, but there are hallucination-sequences that threaten to derail things on several occasions, and even the more straightforward scenes are smouldering looks and things left unsaid. This is an arthouse film, playing in a multiplex; and there's no judgement there, that's just the way it is.

But the film looks, and feels, outstanding. Cinematographer Larry Smith captures a Bangkok that's gritty without being dirty, and Refn makes it salacious without being vulgar. There's an edge of menace to the underworld, but it's not shown with any derision or judgement. Kristin Scott Thomas is on particularly good form in here; thoroughly unlikeable, although that's exactly the point. Ryan Gosling plays Ryan Gosling™. Not a bad thing, but you've seen it before. And despite his self-serving tendency to execute the spirit of the law, if not the letter, Vithaya Pansringarm's Police Lieutenant Chang is the most sympathetic character in the whole hour and a half, and he's a borderline psychopath. All the other main players are intriguing, certainly, but not to the point where you necessarily care what happens to them. Which is probably just as well. A couple of the more violent scenes did have me cackling in my seat, not least because of the bold move in including them in the first place. Let's just say it earns that 18 certificate.

In short, if the trailer pushes your buttons you'll enjoy what the film has in store. If it leaves you scratching your head, you'll continue to do this throughout Only God Forgives.

Visually arresting, thematically stunning, narratively bewildering. Refn persists in his attempt to turn me into a reverse film snob, but while his films look this beautiful I can't give up on him just yet.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
Well, largely.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
Sometimes, yes.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
I have no idea.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
It looks beautiful, but your DVD player should be able to do it justice.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?

Will I watch it again?

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
Not that I heard.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…
Is it just me? OGF's Rotten Tomatoes score would suggest not, but is it?

*1 I don't care what anyone says, that film is fucking infuriating. Even when things are going on, nothing's happening.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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