Thursday, August 29, 2013

Only God Forgives review

Violent, silent, and weird as hell.
Only God Forgives is the new film by Nicholas Winding Refn and as I mentioned, it's strange.
It stars Ryan Gosling as a drug smuggler and boxing promoter, whose brother is killed. He and his overbearing mother (Kristen Scott Thomas) get revenge against the men that killed him.
Nicholas Winding Refn is not a great director. Drive was alright. Bronson was good (I guess). Only God Forgives is his worst film that I've seen so far. I'm not saying it's a terrible movie. It has it's strengths. Yet, it's too experimental and fragmented to feel like a whole movie. And it is certainly nowhere near as good of a performance for Gosling. Seriously. That guy can do a whole lot better than this. His roles in The Place Beyond the Pines, Lars and the Real Girl, and The Ides of March were great. The performance he's giving here is mediocre. Although that isn't all his fault. For some weird reason, Winding Refn doesn't like to give Ryan Gosling dialogue. He made his character very silent in Drive and he barely talks at all here. He's not being used to his full extent! Nicholas Winding Refn can occasionally come off as pretentious when he directs. Although I don't usually see it, Only God Forgives is incredibly pretentious. The camera work and lighting look so forced, like someone was trying to be all "art house" or "edgy". It just comes off as annoying. Although Winding Refn did some good things here. I definitely saw a lot of influence and homage to David Lynch. The dark, red shadows and the long shots of hallways were reminiscent of some of Lynch's works. It was good, then again I'd like Winding Refn to do his own thing. I guess his purpose was to try to make violence seem beautiful, but it's too forced. And honestly, how the hell is violence beautiful? I get what he's trying to say, and I don't mind violent movies at all, but a dude getting his hands chopped off isn't awe inspiring. I admired some of the deliberate strangeness to the movie, and I thought the editing was great, but it just didn't pull it off. All the things Nicholas Winding Refn is trying to do are lost in all the pretentiousness and flaws. It's not Winding Refn's best, but it's not awful. It's different, but it fails at accomplishing what it set out to do. David Lynch fans will appreciate the homages and you may enjoy the film's sheer strangeness, but overall it kind of falls flat. Certainly not worth the $11 theater ticket, although if you're interested enough I suppose it may be worth a rental. I give Only God Forgives 2.5 out of 5 stars. Happy Viewing. You can follow me on Twitter @WhitsMovies and like me on Facebook at!      


  1. Good review Whit. A very strange movie, but coming from Refn, I didn't expect anything less.

  2. I am a big fan of Refn and would certainly agree that this is the weakest of his films. I require more than cool visuals and symbolism in a film.

    1. Definitely. The camerawork and cinematography were it's only strong suits.