Chris and I saw Only God Forgives with our friend Jordan. Here’s what he had to say:
Staring into the mirror for an hour, memorizing every detail of your eyes until you’ve fallen deep into the gaze of a face that is not your own, and then walking away with only the faintest memory of what just happened…this is what it felt like stepping out of the theater after viewing Only God Forgives. It’s a surreal experience; a unique seedling of an idea sprouting from the mind of Nicolas Winding Refn. It grows slowly, meticulously, and by the time an hour and a half have passed you’re looking at a fully grown tree of a film. Its pacing is the equivalent of the buildup to the final thrill of a theme park ride, except you never reach that thrill, and yet that is what makes it worth watching. While it deals heavily with consequences, it’s more interested in showing us how each character reaches those consequences rather than dwelling on what happens afterwards. I would be perfectly happy if more films followed this route.
The title of the film appears to describe what occurs within well enough: Only God Forgives. Ryan Gosling’s Julian isn’t a forgiving character. His mother is a ruthless manipulator and her first born son (a title she enjoys throwing in Julian’s face) Billy is the spawn of all she represents, and they certainly aren’t forgiving anyone. Even Vithaya Pansringarm’s Lt. Chang, the so-called ‘Angel of Vengeance’, is one too many steps from true forgiveness. He may believe himself to be the “god” of his own form of justice, but in the end, he acts for his own stilted truth. In an underground culture where few are truly innocent, the plot rotates in a surreal exchange of scenes where each character is killed, maimed, set free or even seemingly dissolved of their sins…but in the end, someone pays their price. No one truly forgives. In the end, only God forgives.
I really liked watching this movie. This tied for my favorite Nicolas Winding Refn movie with Bronson.
Only God Forgives is a movie that people are really going to love and have a lot to say about it in terms of technique, story and acting. A lot of people are going to love it and shit on people that don’t.
Only God Forgives is a movie that people are really going to hate and have a lot to say about it in terms of technique, story and acting. A lot of people are going to hate it and shit on people that do.
Don’t be an asshole either way.