"Only God Forgives is a dark film showing one man's struggle to appease the needs of his family without compromising his own morals"
This by far, has got to be one of Gosling's strangest roles yet and not because he wanted it to be, it's because he's an actor and that's what they do, play a role. The film seems more like a moody musical than an actual movie, for the most part. Words that would help us, the viewer, to better understand the story are exchanged for dark soundscapes and karaoke tunes that left us scratching our heads. Well, all that aside, let's get into it with our review of "Only God Forgives".
As we stated above, this movie is rather dark and moody, but it does have a bit of a plot connecting the scenes together with a shoestring tie. The movie begins with showing the main character, Julian(Gosling) watching over a Muay Thai arena that he manages within the bustling town of Bangkok. There's all sorts of gambling and underhanded deals going on, but this isn't even the focus of the film. It's about Julian and how he "absorbs" the events going on around him.
Now as we all now, Gosling has this staring thing that he does in most of the films we've seen and we love him for it, but in this one, it was almost "too much" of a good thing. If he's staring and actually talking fine, but with him just staring through people and looking at his hands, we were like "WTF"(lol). So as the story progresses his brother, Billy(Burke), gets himself into a bit of hot water while sampling the street fare in the red light district. You know where there are 13 to 45 year old women looking to bring smiles for a small fee. Well, that's the custom there, but let's just say that Billy overindulges his appetite for company and gets his hands a little too dirty.
So with that, as in any place, Billy is punished for his stupidity and takes an unexpected absence from the film(lol). Now here's where there's a little starch added to the film's gravy. Julian hears of his brother's misstep and begins searching to find whose responsible for his Billy's misfortune. This search leads him to find an older man sniveling in the corner with one hand waving in the air and a bloody stump wrapped in gauze attempting to do the same. Now, most folks finding the source of a family members pain would quickly dismember the individual, but Julian hesitates, he let's the man go. But why?
Now on the other side of town, we find this stone-cold Lt. Chang dispersing his own brand of justice within the streets of Thailand. He's a cop, but he's not ordinary, by any means. This guy would rather serve the public with his katana blade than bring crooks to justice within a court of law. Connecting the dots yet? For some reason, he and Julian's stories align to bring a twisted rhyme and reason to the overall presentation. It could possible be because the Muay Thai fight club is a little more than meets the eye or maybe Julian's mother, Crystal, likes to pay men for special favors. You decide.
So, our feelings about "Only God Forgives" are mixed at best. The film's title had us thinking that it was going to be some killer movie with tons of death, but we got a musical and an assorted bag of dark imagery. Maybe upon another viewing this movie we would have one of those "Ah Hah moments", but for now, we're good on this one.
Do we recommend this film? Well, we'll say it's only for those that truly love Gosling and don't care what movie he's in, but for those wanting sustenance, you're better off looking elsewhere. This movie didn't have any of the thrills that we hoped to see from the "Drive" director Nicholas Refn, but maybe his next film will deliver something a little more fulfilling than a dark soundtrack.
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