Page 1 of 3
Ryan Gosling and Kristin Scott Thomas get a little crazy in this actioner set in the underground Bangkok fighting circuit...
Anchor Bay / 90 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: October 22, 2013
Try not to be shocked, but it turns out that the underground fight club scene in Bangkok is actually a pretty dangerous place to be. When we meet Julian (Ryan Gosling) at the beginning of Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest max-bloodshed neon actioner Only God Forgives, the guy is just trying to stay as straight-and-narrow as he can without getting sucked into darkness of the world around him. His brother Billy (Tom Burke), though, doesn’t have Julian’s reserve, and after he murders a girl who turns out to be the daughter of a high-rolling pimp, Billy gets, well, murdered.
In the world of the movie, it seems as though the natural thing for a brother like Julian to do would be to avenge Billy’s death – that’s certainly what his mom Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) demands of him – but even as a man who makes his living exploiting violence and man’s violent nature, he can’t bring himself to do the deed. But rising above this base revenge paradigm turns out to be more difficult than he ever could have planned, and this underbelly of Bangkok comes crashing down around him.
Refn’s movies – especially this one and Drive – don’t seem to have much interest in nuance or subtlety, but that makes little difference when their experiential qualities are so richly represented. Only God Forgives is a crazy, staccato fever dream of a film, and while it’s not the sort of picture that demands multiple viewings (it’s so brutal that one can hardly imagine returning to it even just a second time), there’s no denying its often thrilling bombast.
Only God Forgivessplit international audiences at Cannes earlier this year – some responded favorably to its postmodern hyperactivity, others felt it went too far – and audiences experiencing the movie for the first time on Blu-ray will likely be similarly polarized. But this one might actually be a hit date night rental: it certainly has enough of a Gosling factor to keep your girlfriend at least moderately interested, and you just might find its cage-fighting lunacy to be insane, brash diversion.