After the superb efforts of Nicolas Winding Refn & Ryan Gosling in 2011’s Drive I could hardly resist this pairing upon hearing they were working together again. I suppose I knew very little about this movie before watching it and was enticed by those big names but Only God Forgives is one of those films which I find myself undecided about.
The main plot of the movie is good, there is no denying that this is an interesting story but the way it was produced just ruined any chances of it being an enjoyable film. I had so many issues with it, prepare yourself;
1.) The painfully long silences accompanied by different characters simply staring at each other.
2.) Much like point one, the lack of dialogue.
3.) The ridiculously epic music played during completely ordinary scenes
4.) When anyone actually did began to speak, the dialogue was muted in favour of this epic music.
5.) For a long section of the movie the lack of emotion shown my most characters.
I genuinely could go on into double figures with my complaints for this film. However maybe I simply didn’t get it. Maybe this film had too much of an arty slant on things which was wasted on me, but I honestly think most people in the cinema didn’t really understand/enjoy what they were watching. This was the second film this year to explore incestuous themes (the other being Deadfall), im not sure what this theme adds to the storyline. I’m not saying that film shouldn’t explore issues like this, im just not sure that it was appropriate in this setting.
The violence was there, as to be expected from Refn, however at times it was hard to watch, it was a step up from the violence featured in Drive. If im honest most of the film was hard to watch as it was incredibly tense and im still unsure of whether or not achieving this atmosphere should be praised or not.
The character of Chang or The Angel of Vengeance was a strange one and the villain of sorts for this movie. I simply didn’t understand his persona, he was so wooden for the entire movie bar the one fight sequence. Although saying that I think it was his calm demeanor that made him so menacing which did contribute to this picture.
BIGGEST FLAW – Those Karaoke scenes (YES KARAOKE!) I just did not get them at all!
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – Tense atmosphere
I honestly don’t know what to think about Only God Forgives – The story had legs but the different ways in which it was brought to the screen had a detrimental effect causing confusion and uncomfortable viewing for those watching, I think this is one you will simply have to watch for yourself and make up your own mind, I don’t even know if I have yet.
Rating – 5/10