On Ryan Gosling and Nic Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives

July 18, 2013

Back from Only God Forgives. First Up: The film is not a Drive – sadly. It is ‘interesting’. Which means it’s OK on some levels – but is really not that good. The rumours out of Cannes about it being a bit crap had some legs. Nicholas Winding Refn tries to sort through his Mommy issues in a odd, stilted and strange tale of a revenge cycle taking place in Bangkok. The huge mistake of the film is the use and embrace of an out of place formalism. Bangkok is SO not the place to make a formalist movie – as it’s so hustle and bustle – but Refn tries is darndest. It’s influenced heavily by a little seen film – Soi Cowboy – by Thomas Clay (MUFF 2009) another Euro filmmaker going all formalist in Thailand – it’s almost a copy of that movie. Gosling wanders around silently for most of the film with a look on his face wondering “WTF am I meant to be doing in this shot?”. It has all the ear marks and potential to be a great film. But the rather poor to non existent script and out of place formalism makes it a lesser work in the Refn oeuvre, in my humble opinion. Kristen Scott Thomas brings some life to it in a fairly impressive turn as Gangtser Mom -but she can’t save it and it never really rocks. It’s worth a look of, course. If you are a formalist cinema fan you may like it. It’s well shot and has a certain strange charm, still that gets you thinking about it. Oh and the good news is: I’m in it! – for a blink and you’ll miss it uncredited cameo as Gosling approaches the Sukhumvit Road when he is following Vithaya Pansringarm in a white T-shirt. As Gosling turns on to Sukhumvit I enter frame (top left) for about two seconds looking sleazy. That completely random synchronicity of fate or whatever tells me I’ll work with one of these guys (Gosling or Refn) one day.

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