Monday, March 3, 2014

Only God Forgives

Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive starred Ryan Gosling in a critical and commercial success for the both of them. Their follow up, Only God Forgives, sees Gosling try to be the first person to ever star in a movie without actually giving a performance. His character, Julian, has a reputed 17 lines of dialog in the movie, but neither they nor anything else Gosling or Refn does cares to make a character for us. Sadly, he's not the only one, as there really are no characters in this mercifully only 90 minute movie. There are only sketches. Sketches of characters, sketches of ideas, sketches of originality. As a director, Refn films the movie like the love child of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch, with a bit of Gaspar Noe, and more than once I noticed him aping Kurosawa's love of 90 degree edits.

Sumptuously filmed, but ultimately as deep as a kids swimming pool, Only God Forgives wasn't agonizing to sit through. At one point Julian's mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) tells him "You're right, I don't understand you. And I never will." We often feel the same way. I left many scenes thinking "What was the point of that?" What was the point of the countless dolly in close ups? What was the point of the karaoke scenes? What was the point of the bare knuckled fight? What was the point of any of it? The movie leaves no lasting impact other than that question.

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