ONLY GOD FORGIVES (2013) by Nicolas Winding Refn
“Time to meet the devil”
One of the best films of 2013, which could be seen at the Sitges Festival that year, by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn, known worldwide for his previous overrated film, “Drive”.
I wanted to see this movie to witness the evolution of this young director, particularly after directing the so praised “Drive”. Both films star Ryan Gosling, talented young actor who debuted recently as director with his “very personal” debut “Lost River”.
It is a great film with “Neo-noir” aesthetics; every minute of its footage is enjoyable. The plot is strong and convincing, it is also very aesthetic visually, it even incorporates light as a character in the story particularly in the first part of the film; simply brilliant.
The plot takes place in Bangkok, Thailand, and tells the story of Julian (Ryan Gosling) an American expatriate, but highly respected in the gangland, who runs a club of kickboxing as a cover-up for drug dealing.
Other characters that complete the film include Billy (Tom Burke) Julian’s older brother, a real psychopath who rapes and kills for pleasurea an underage prostitute, Lieutenant Chang (“The Angel of Vengeance”), (masterfully played by Vithaya Pansringarm), unknown actor in the West but with artistic training in the US cinema, plays an absolutely outstanding role, this “Angel of Vengeance” is true to its name and “avenges” the death of the young prostitute, it is in this moment when Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), mother of the two brothers, who came to Bangkok in search of bloody revenge appears.
This film was risky, since it had many problems from the beginning; mainly due to the demur of actor Luke Evans to play the role of Julian, who went for the trilogy of “The Hobbit”, causing Ryan Gosling to join the cast in a hurry, acting as a personal favour for the director, although it is almost impossible to imagine a better performance than this one offered by this young actor born in 1980 (34 years old), which is already at the top of the greatest actors of his generation and one of the best actors nowadays.
On the other hand the director, (although everyone will have different opinions) shows a mature, personal and independent development with this film, despite being on a tight budget, with commercial distribution problems, (it has not reached many countries or it has been on the billboards for a very little time). The easiest thing for him would have been, after the success of “Drive”, to direct a more commercial film or a commissioned one.
With all this, the personal commitment of Nicolas Winding Refn offers us a film full of drama, neo-noir thriller, action, martial arts, Asian culture, underworld, love (even insinuating a bit of incest), crudity, but especially; respect and justice, hence the title of the film, which is explained in the last scene just before the credits.
In short: great cult movie.
Traducido por: Carlota Sánchez García