Saturday, December 7, 2013

Only God Forgives - DVD Review

Starring Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Rhatha Phongham, Gordon Brown and Tom Burke.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

I get the feeling this is a movie that Refn and Gosling just had to get out of their system. I had higher hopes for their second collaboration, after they'd made the excellent Drive, but my guess is that Drive was more of the exception than the rule for the rest of Refn's career.

This movie is all macho posing while dark lights put actors in music-video scenes. Ryan Gosling is Julian, a gangster who runs a boxing ring in Thailand. When Julian's scumbag brother Billy is killed, Crystal, the matriarch of this crime family (Kristin Scott Thomas), flies in and demand some heads roll.  There's no reason to root for Julian, since Billy pretty much deserved what he got, but in a film where almost everyone's evil, well, people are going to suffer.

The antagonist here is Chang, head of the local police force, and the man who condoned Billy's murder. He likes to dispense justice with a sword. So while a showdown with Julian seems inevitable, the showdown with Crystal was more intriguing to me (even though it stank). After all, Julian looks like he's barely awake through most of the movie. That look on his face in the poster? he has that expression the entire movie.

People walk slowly in this movie, and it usually feels like Refn is trying to pad the runtime, which is a mercifully short 89 minutes.

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