Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Gordon Brown, Yayaying Rhatha Phongam
Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
“Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death” (IMDB).
What to Expect
Heavy red, blue, and yellow lighting
Ryan Gosling devoid of emotion
Why You Should Watch It
This film is dedicated to Alejandro Jodorowsky and inspired by Gaspar Noé. If you understand anything about these two men then you’ll know exactly what you’re getting into. It also poses a unique challenge of how far one can move a plot along with as little dialogue as possible. Or emotion.
This movie was a bit of a struggle for me. Only two characters seem to have any feelings – even the children have no emotional affect watching adults getting slaughtered in front of them. The dialogue is sparse and incredibly slow-paced. Julian’s mommy was giving off weird incest vibes. The best parts were the intense practical lighting that gave Only God Forgives a surreal, dreamlike quality; and Chang’s (Pansringarm) karaoke sessions. I can’t find translated lyrics, but I’m sure the songs “Missing Home” and “Can’t Forget” that he performs directly relate to the plot. Perhaps the former alludes to him missing home because he’s a retired cop who has been momentarily brought back in and is now swept up in trying to figure out who wants to kill him. The latter could have to do with forgiveness not necessarily meaning forgetting.
Funnily enough, while I was forcing myself to get through two hours of Ryan Gosling staring off into nothing, it popped into my head that I need to review a Jodorowsky film (or five) for Weird Movie Wednesday. When I saw Refn dedicate the movie to him at the start of the end credits, everything clicked into place. Well of course this movie is weird as shit; Refn is a Jodorowsky fan.
Fun fact: Gosling has 17 lines throughout the whole film.
Unproven fact I just made up: While watching the fight scene, Denis Villeneuve heard the score and thought to himself, “I need to put this man in a Blade Runner sequel!”
The only fact you really need to know: Chang is God.