Review: Only God Forgives

Is Nicolas Winding Refn the next M. Night Shyamalan?
 
Julian (Ryan Gosling) is a drug dealer hiding behind the guise of a boxing club. His older brother is murdered. Julian knows why, and lets the man who did it go. Well Julian's peach of a mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) shows up, creeps on her son and demands she give him her older son's murderer's head.
 
This film is littered with long takes and stunning lighting. As a film fan, I can appreciate that..to a point. Cinematography one of the most important parts of film. It helps enhance the story and makes us feel like we're really there. But here's the thing, when you are being to obvious about it, you're not enhancing it, you're being pretentious. I know some will interpret that differently, but here's my stance on it: When you wade into some Lars Von Trier douche territory and start filming certain things "just because they look arty." It's overkill. Gus Van Sant perfected the "long take" because his characters are actually accomplishing something while he's doing it. Sam Mendes can shoot a fight scene against a beautiful Shanghai back drop, and it works because the it enhances the scene, not overwhelms it.  Ang Lee can give us sweeping views of the mountains in Brokeback Mountain, and it means something because that is where his characters fell in love.
 
Refn shoots long takes of his actors just standing there, staring at each other. Then will pan back and forth between the two again. It gets long and unnecessary. The film drags because of this. I liked the darkly lit hallways he used. I liked him shooting a scene through beaded curtains, but they go on for several minutes too long. How long do I need to see Ryan Gosling and a prostitute starting at each other? About 5 seconds. Not 5 minutes. Would the film have been better if he would've laid off this technique? Yes, but not by much. The plot itself is thin and we don't get enough back story as to why Julian does what he does. How can I feel for him if the only thing I know is that he fucked up in America, fled, and has a terrible mother? I've read a lot of complaints that the film is "ultraviolent" but I have to disagree here. It was violent, yes, but not more than I expected it to be.
 
I hope Nicolas Winding Refn isn't the next M. Night. I really hope this isn't the case of Refn having one hit (Drive) then subsequently getting full control of a movie and ruining it. (Like M. Night has done on everything after the Sixth Sense) But to be perfectly honest, Cliff Martinez's excellent score is the only reason I'm not giving this movie a big fat F.
 
Recommended: No
 
Grade: D-
 
Memorable Quote: "Wanna fight?" - Julian (Ryan Gosling)
 

 


17 comments:

  1. You and I agree completely on this one. People are responding to me with "there's so much there! watch it again!" Are you kidding? I see what was there, but it's not enough to make it worth a second viewing. Style over substance heavily with this one. Very disappointing.

    hahaha @ your memorable quote. Don't you mean the ONLY quote?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OMG, right? I think Gosling said 15 words total during the entire film. I should've counted them.

      Delete
  2. I need to see this in the worst f--king way. I loved Drive and this seems like it's going to be crushingly horrible, but I'm still helplessly compelled to check it out.

    Liked your review a lot.

    Von Trier Douche Territory? I should rename my blog that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Style over Substance, I'm so disappointed in this. I'd love to read your review on it. Someone on Twitter pointed out that I was being a little harsh with Von Trier. But I fucking hate his movies so damn much! I can't help it!

      Delete
  3. This is one of my most anticipated of the year. I keep hearing that it is terrible though. WHY!!!???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Because Refn forgot he was making a movie and not taking a picture.

      Delete
  4. Ouch. Sorry you didn't like it. Most of the film actually worked for me, but I get where you're coming from.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish I would've liked it as much as you did. I wanted to, I just couldn't.

      Delete
  5. Yeah, awful bloody film. Saw it last night and I kept laughing like crazy when Gosling had that bored stare in every other scene. I nearly peed my pants when he yelled at the girl to take the dress off.

    This is like the 3rd movie this year where the music is much better than the actual film.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No kidding! Or how he answered every question with only a few words? Compelling dialogue there.

      Delete
  6. Well I wasn't remotely interested in this one so your review only confirm only confirmed my dread. I agree that cinematography should serve the story, not just simply an indulgence that serves no purpose. Cinema is not fine art and shouldn't be treated as such. Pretentious sounds right, both the actor and the director, I'd say they belong to each other.

    Besides, I can't stand Ryan Gosling's smug face so the long takes and close-up on his face is NEVER a good thing in my book, ahah.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think Ryan Gosling is a good looking guy, but long takes do not serve him well. I remember thinking that when watching The Ides of March. The longer they focused on his face, the more unattractive he got.

      Delete
    2. Well I never find him to be remotely attractive, but he ACTS like he's god. Plus he sounds like micky mouse! I grow increasingly baffled by people's adulation towards him, totally boggles the mind :D

      Delete
  7. Wow ... awesome review, Brittany! :-) I haven't seen this, but your assessment makes sense. Elegant use of cinematography should look effortless and not distract viewers from the story (or cover up the fact that the story is thin).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you do see this, you will know exactly how I felt. This movie was such a waste.

      Delete
  8. Brittani, I am thinking maybe Refn did this on purpose after all the acclaim he received for Drive. At least I hope so. He can't be the next M. Night Shamalamadingdong until he makes five bad films in a row. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For his sake, I hope he did that on purpose. If the rest of his films are going to be like this, I'll cry.

      Delete

If you're reading this sentence you should probably leave a comment.