Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Only God Forgives

Nicholas Winding Refn (DRIVE) and Ryan Gosling (THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES) reunite in the highly acclaimed ONLY GOD FORGIVES, a stylish, mesmerising and thrilling journey though Bangkok's criminal underworld. Julian (Gosling) runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for a drugs operation. Then his brother kills a prostitute and is himself murdered, then his mother (the head of a criminal organisation) arrives to collect her son's body and demands revenge. Furious with grief, she dispatches Julian to find his killers and raise hell. The stage is set for a bloody journey of betrayal and vengance towards a final confrontation and the possibility of redemption. Hailed as "mesmeric, mad, brutal and brilliant" by THE GUARDIAN newspaper, ONLY GOD FORGIVES is a twisted, breathtaking, neon-drenched fairytale that you'll never forget!

Well, wow, and wow again. ONLY GOD FORGIVES is something else. I don't usually go for ultra violence or torture porn, but sometimes a film is so stylish and flash that it all becomes like a cartoon. If you liked KILL BILL or DRIVE or EASTERN PROMISES, then you will love this. Every shot is dazzling, with camera sets up and colours you want to look at (it looks as enticing as IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE). 
DRIVE was one of the best films of the millennium, hands down. This Thailand-set revenge saga feels like a natural extension of that masterpiece, albeit with maybe boring and pretentious moments. One could say the brutality on show here is pointless and nasty as when Julian's brother murders an underage prostitute, the police call on retired cop Chang - the Angel of Vengeance, who dispenses his own summary justice .... 
However, the neon-lit cinematography is simply stunning and quite often disguises the senselessness of what is actually going on, whilst the ballsy performance from Kristen Scott Thomas as Gosling's reprehensible white-trash mother is a terrific display of her versatility. Its a jaw-dropping performance - her vile, foul-mouth mother is a total contrast to her roles in French movies like DANS LE MAISON (IN THE HOUSE) or LEAVING. Gosling has maybe 20 lines,but this and THE THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES confirm now mesmerising he is on screen, though that one did not work for me. 

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