24 days to go: Onlly God Forgives (March, 15)

If you ask me, I'd say that only a few things in life are absolute. Violence is one of them, and Nicolas Winding Refn takes it to the letter in Only God Forgives.

How to film a kind of violence that are a subject of many narratives, a lot of others movies? Drugs, revenge, abuse, madness, Oedipus complex... we've all seen it before, but rarely through the colors and aesthetic presented by Refn here. 

It is suffocating, as it should. It is not easy, and it couldn't be. There are reports of people leaving the theater during the movie. Reactions in Cannes were very contrary. The choice of interrelating facts with some of the characters' thoughts doesn't let it be too easy to stay with this story. However, if you let it go and simply go with the tide, everything will make great sense - a sad, tragic, terrible one. 

Refn has worked Ryan Gosling in this movie after the perfection that was their work together in Drive. Yes, for me, the 2011 collaboration epitomizes some features that makes a movie perfect to me. The silence, the characters, the right time for every move... I just love it. Few movie makers are so spot on in the debate about violence (Mikael Haneke is one of the masters), and Refn is taking the podium as one of the best nowadays. 

Discussing violence is a necessity, and there's no better media to do so as fictional narratives: movies, games, HQ... Instead of encouraging violent acts, as we usually hear, those narratives provide the opportunity to debate something that are usually a taboo, that we don't discuss during dinner. For that reason alone, movies like Only God Forgives are very important - and they cannot be easy, right? It is not a futile subject. 

I wasn't very sensible to all the violent deaths and all - they are horrible, graphic, with a bit of Tarantino blood. What really shocked me, and made this movie more relevant, was the dynamic between the mother (an unrecognizable and terrific Kristin Scott Thomas) and their sons, specially Ryan Gosling. Man, An absolute horror.

At the end, a bit mesmerized, I looked at Rodrigo (today's carer :), expecting what he would say. And of course he didn't disappoint: 'well,' he said, 'it is a movie about a police officer doing his job'. Who am I to disagree, even if the scenario is so, so much bigger than that?

Only God Forgives. Directed and writen by Nicolas Winding Refn. Cast: Ryan
Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansrigarm. Denmark/France/USA/Sweden,
2013, Dolby Digital, Color, 90 min.

PS:The scenes in Thai weren't translated. The discomfort that such a choice caused reminded me of The Name of The Rose. Umberto Eco said that the quotation in Latin in his book were like the lack of light in a movie: something you just don't see or understand. This feature in the Refn's film makes much sense. There's a lot we just don't know, and there's no way to be different.


  1. You are right in saying that NWR has a masterful skill when it comes to integrating violance in his films, and not only using it but having it as a character in its own, always fused with the storytelling. I love how brilliant he is at that. I also love his use of colour, it's always so perfectly executed and plays a huge part in the narrative.
    I've told you, this one is one of my favourites of his films. I gotta say I feel as though I was maybe a bit immature, Refn-wise, to fully absorb his awesomeness when I watched Drive (it was my first experience with his work, after all), so I'm aware that it needs a rewatch, now that I have a better idea of what I'm dealing with here. But for the time being, Only god forgives and The Neon Demon are absolute masterpieces in my book. And you should most definitely watch The Neon Demon for this dare, because we need your input on that one here. Just saying.

    [ j ]

    1. Drive is one of the best movies ever for me. It was an interesting time when I watched it. Soon after Drive, I've saw Shame - both are on the same high grounds for me. I'll take a deep breath and will watch The Neon Demon in a few days (I promise you, my friend :).