Only God Forgives (2013)

8 Aug

After the surprising success of 2011’s stylish neo-noir Drive, director Nicholas Winding Refn had a lot of expectations to live up to.  When it was announced that heartthrob actor Ryan Gosling would again pair up with Refn to star in his next film Only God Forgives, fans were ecstatic, and creating something with more style and substance found in Drive would be no easy task.

While it is nowhere near from becoming a sort of “Drive 2”, Only God Forgives is a remarkable, and greatly under-appreciated film rich with subtleties.  The story follows a boxing gym owner/drug dealer named Julian (Ryan Gosling), whose brother is brutally murdered after the rape and killing of a 14 year old. Violence ensues as a vendetta between Julian’s family and the vengeful local law enforcement.

Visually, Refn is at the top of his game.  The scenes in Only God Forgives are stylishly shot with pin-point precision and detail. Refn has never been one to shy away from violence, but the blood in this film feels so raw and powerful, and the gore gives off such a shock when contrasted with the beauty and elegance found in the rest of the film.

The warbling, synth-ridden soundtrack by Cliff Martinez also helps gives the film a unique, darkening tone which culminates during the film’s standoff between Julian and the leading cop Chang. Kristen Scott-Thomas makes for a chilling mother, and gives the film an added depth of Freudian speculation.

While the plot doesn’t have the amount of complexity fans loved in Drive, Only God Forgives is still a brutal and dark film that grows on you the more you think about it.

Rating 7/10

Similar to: Drive, The Master, Stoker

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2 Responses to “Only God Forgives (2013)”

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  1. Drive (2011) | timneath - August 10, 2013

    […] Only God Forgives (2013) (ajourneythroughcinema.wordpress.com) […]

  2. The Neon Demon (2016) | A Journey Through Cinema - July 24, 2016

    […] Recipe: Only God Forgives + Black Swan + Upstream Color + lots of […]

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