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Only God Forgives

“You might hate Only God Forgives. Or you might think it’s a perfect bloody milkshake with ingredients culled from Kill Bill, the New French Extremism and “Twin Peaks,” among other influences. This is a horrifically violent movie in which every frame, every musical note, every line reading is delivered in a way that demands our admiration, or at least our attention. Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up effort to the similarly polarizing Drive is even more stylized and daring. Drive star Ryan Gosling strikes a Brando pose playing Julian, a smoldering, seemingly lethal American who navigates the seediest sides of Bangkok.
“Julian seems to be nearly dead inside, he’s involved in a sordid relationship with a beautiful girl and he’s elbow-deep in the Bangkok underworld — but he’s practically George Bailey compared to his brother Billy (Tom Burke), a psychopath with a death wish. When Billy’s depravity catches up with him, we meet the real sickos in this story: the boys’ mother, Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), a viper in designer clothing; and a police detective named Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), who divides his time between doting on his young daughter — and using his ever-handy Samurai sword and whatever other lethal objects might be handy to maim, bloody, torture and/or decapitate anyone he deems an enemy, a criminal or morally weak.
“Crystal is one of the most depraved mothers in cinematic history — a drug-dealing, racist, murderous, casually cruel woman who kept her boys very, very, very close to her. She’s so toxic, it’s a wonder people don’t start running the moment she enters a room. But as the violence escalates and the body count piles up, Crystal comes to realize Chang is a whole other level of sociopathic, systematic street justice. We don’t know how Chang got to a place where nearly every working day involves separating someone from a limb or their life, but he’s unwavering in his belief system.
“This is one of the most shocking and one of the best movies of the year. At times Only God Forgives feels like Kubrick circa Eyes Wide Shut. There’s more than a spattering of Tarantino. Often there’s a vintage David Lynch feel. There’s even a little Sergio Leone in there.
- Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times

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Only God Forgives

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