Jack Bool reviews: Only God Forgives

Film review pix 1/8/13

Film review pix 1/8/13 - Credit: Archant

Greeted by walk-outs, boos and applause, Only God Forgives certainly received a very mixed reception when it premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The film itself reunites the director, Nicolas Winding Refn and the film's star, Ryan Gosling. You may remember that in 2011, the two collaborated on the cult hit 'Drive'. That was widely considered to be one of the best films of the year. Personally, I would give the film a lot more credit than that. I believe that 'Drive' is the best film of the current decade, and I would definitely rank it amongst my all-time favourite films. But this is not Drive. This is Only God Forgives, and to put it simply, it's one hell of a ride.

In Only God Forgives, Ryan Gosling plays, Julian, a drug dealer that uses his boxing gym as a drug front, so that he can carry out his other operations. Entirely shot on location in Thailand, Julian's brother is killed, and when his mother comes to visit, Julian is forced to embark on a bloody path, involving multiple dismemberments and high levels of violence, in order to avenge his brother's death.

My love for Drive is unquestionable, so as you can most probably imagine I was very excited to see what Refn and Gosling would conjure up next. It's safe to say, that the diverse response kept my expectations realistic. Otherwise I would have found them hard to contain. Nevertheless, I would like to proclaim Only God Forgives as my favourite film of the year thus far. It's a pure, bloody masterpiece that is executed in a superb fashion.

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Very rarely do I hold films in such high regard, but Only God Forgives is definitely the most ambitious and layered movie to come out this year. Admittedly it is the type of film that you have to watch multiple times to appreciate, and seeing as I have now seen the film twice, I certainly feel that I understood the meaning behind the film a lot more than I did the first time round. However, that's not to say that I didn't like as much the first time. Because even after the first viewing, I recognised that this was probably going to end up as my favourite film of the year.

From an aesthetic viewpoint, the film really is an absolute masterpiece. It's definitely one of the best looking movies that I have seen in my lifetime and I imagine it probably always will be. It's superbly lit and the cinematography is definitely worthy of Oscar wins, although, it's a safe bet that the Academy would probably refuse to recognise a film as aspiring as this, because it is very violent, yet nowhere near as bad as the press have made out.

The performances in this film are all very interesting. Again, like with Drive, Ryan Gosling remains very reserved in the lead role, with a minimal emphasis on dialogue and expression, he's literally a blank canvas. Yet, somehow the performance manages to blend simultaneously with what direction Refn has opted to go in. However, when following the development of this movie, it became evidently clear that Gosling was responsible for a lot of the films ideas and if him and Refn can continue this fantastic body of work, the more the merrier I say.

Kristin Scott Thomas is superb in the devilish role of Julian's mother, Crystal and an actor that I am completely unfamiliar with, Vithaya Pansringarm provides one of my favourite performances of the year as the karaoke cop, Chang. However, there is a far deeper meaning to his character that may not seem so obvious at first.

Cliff Martinez is responsible for the films score, and yet again, it's probably my favourite score of the year. It's very electronic, very mellow and when it needs to be scary. Without it, the film probably wouldn't be the masterpiece it is.

Refn and Gosling have done it again! Only God Forgives is just an incredible work of art. It's full of meaning and if you assess it carefully, I'm sure you'll understand what the film is actually about. It seems like a lot of people either love it, or they hate it and as you can see, I loved it. Resulting in what I would proclaim to be the best film of 2013 so far.


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