Only God Forgives – Review – SPOILERS

Only God ForgivesAfter the notorious booing at the Cannes festival earlier this year by the snooty French critics, I feel they were expediently wrong. Alongside the ratings on both Rotten Tomato and IMDB, I feel they are very inaccurate. Compared to Drive, I feel the directors and writers have done far better in achieving a plausible story with a distinctive style that illustrates a new avenue of cinematic trends and personally feel that this is far better than it’s predecessor.

” Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian killed a man 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 an under age 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 Crystal – 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’. Written by, sourced from IMDB “

Just looking at the story summary above helps to convey the potential for a dark and gritty portrayal of Bangkok’s criminal underbelly. Yet this is only a simple breakdown compared to the actual complexity of it’s fleshed out components. Coupled with the filming style and small sub-stories, the film can start off a little confusing and hard to grasp but looking over the whole focus plot, it eventually pieces itself together, yet the sub-story of Julian’s (Ryan Gosling) and Mai’s (Yayaying Rhatha Phongam) relationship is an eerily poetic but morally indifferent. Mai – a prostitute, is the women that Julian is fixated upon. The sexual relations between them could be considered professional, yet Julian’s fixation portrays it as something far more complex. Even in one scene, Julian wants her to play the role of his partner for when he goes to meet his mother. He buys her a new dress and at the end of the night, have an argument that could be considered as a marital dispute. The story doesn’t just follow Julian. It jumps to the retired cop Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) and follows his pursuit to deal with the drug enterprise and it’s destructive ways.

In terms of acting, it doesn’t demand much spoken intensity from the cast. Ryan Gosling only has a few lines across the 90 minute Only God Forgives 3spectacle and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his part of the script only being 2 pages long. This plays well into Ryan’s hands, simply because I feel he is the David Beckham of the acting world. He has the looks, he can portray himself as cool and collected and then emotionally scarred by love, he has the acting ability until he speaks. His voice – much like Beckham’s, can be high and squeaky making it hard to take him seriously. However, in this, it felt natural. His silence added mystery to his character which makes him such a threat. Silently walking to a pair of men and smashing a glass into his face with one foul swoop and dragging him out by his teeth solidifies this. It’s much the same for Chang, yet he performs karaoke in front of his police force and rules with his violent capabilities. Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) on the other hand is a loose cannon who chooses her favourite child and makes it quite clear. Vocally, she is aggressive, manipulative and psychotic. She treats Julian in ways that are inappropriate and almost sexual, making it really damn weird at points. Then suddenly, she snaps, lying and blaming others. There was one performance that I had a problem with, all of the rest were executed perfectly to fit the lines they were given and managed to keep very collected all the way through rather than losing it when it was needed the most.

Drive is notorious for it’s violence, but it was a bit over zealous at points. This however is extremely plausible. Chang is obviously the most dangerous out of the group, armed with a razor sharp blade, he’s cutting limbs off and slicing open a guys rib cage in one quick swipe. Slumping to the floor, we are given a shot right above his corpse, looking into his chest cavity as blood spills onto the ground. You Only God Forgives 2can even see the actual ribs which made the whole cinema cringe. Minutes later, he is torturing a man with the use of various pin shaped utensils, pinning him to the chair as he screams, Chang digs a fruit blade into his eyes causing more blood curdling screens and many gasps by the viewers as we watch every minute cut with an extreme close-up of the guys faces. Finally ending him by plunging another utensil into this guys ear. Nervous chatter would erupt in the cinema with a few “Holy Shit, man!”‘s coming from around the room. The vivid violence was stunning, increasingly fucked up and deeply disturbing. It easily outmatched many horror movies for its use of violence and the effect it had on the audience.

Finally we have the cinematography and the music. The music is fairly oriental with a twist from some synths and bass drops that create tension in just the right spots. The score is well composed and doesn’t over power the visuals and had a brilliant collection of sounds and tempos. The framing of the scenes was always thought about when creating this. Using the natural surrounding to crop the screen is a funky idea. This is much the same with lighting. Ryan’s position on screen is normally dictated by the light, especially when he is behind the carved wood wall and the light shines through illuminating small features on his face further connoting the dark and deluded mind of Julian. Colours were vivid and punchy. Neon in type, they fill the area with a seedy glow that extenuates the surrounding area and pops the wallpaper in the brothel scenes. The neon also helps to set certain scenes up with a sense of danger and so much more. When daylight comes, the light catches you out and it looks stunning when balanced with the rusty exterior of the market district.

As I stated before, this movie is brilliant but there a few little things that dragged on me. One was Chang’s sword, it would appear from nowhere on his back and you could never see the sheath. Secondly was the amount of script, very little does make it feel a little empty at points but the positioning on screen and the lighting to help to maximise what happens. Thirdly, we have the story. At points it can be hard to grasp and I feel the love interest was fairly useless in the overall aspect and what the hell is with the karaoke and the ending. Why does Julian practically hand himself over to Chang. It leaves questions unanswered that should have been finished. So my overall ranking shall be an 8/10. It’s a work of art and is one of Gosling’s best roles to date. Catch it before it goes!

Only God Forgives 1

Posted on 05/08/2013, in Film & TV, Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: