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Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives

Some people value style over content; I prefer a melding of
the two, which is why I found Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive so irritating and pretentious. But it could pass itself off
as a Disney movie compared to his newest effort, Only God Forgives. The director also wrote this heavy-handed
revenge melodrama (or is it a bone-dry comedy?) set in Bangkok.

Ryan Gosling, instructed again to maintain a poker face from
start to finish, plays a man who traffics in drugs. His brother’s murder arouses
the ire of two formidable figures: a local policeman who doesn’t hesitate to
use a massive sword that he carries on his person—after which he relaxes by
singing in karaoke bars—and Gosling’s mother, played by Kristin Scott Thomas,
whose manner (and foul mouth) are almost as lethal as that polished steel
weapon. It’s always interesting to watch this talented actress flex her muscles
(here, playing a cold-hearted American) but I’m sorry it’s in such a tiresome

Everything about Only
God Forgives
is shrouded in mood lighting and an air of portent. There is
no particular suspense, as we are never in doubt that the policeman is going to
use his sword to eviscerate the people who get in his way. It’s only a question
of when and where the violence will occur.

an exercise in high style, I suppose Only
God Forgives
has its merits. If one has a perverse sense of humor, I
suppose its overall absurdity might score a few points. I found nothing of
value here.

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