Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Only God Forgives

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Well, I know one thing after watching this movie:  Not a single character in this movie would be threatened by one of the Weeping Angels.

Only God Forgives – 2 out of 5

Remember how awesome the movie Drive was? Well, the director of that one wrote and directed this one and he brought the dreamy Ryan Gosling back to kick some ass in it. What could go wrong?

Look at him.  One can't deny his dreamy-ness.

A whole lot, it seems.

"Standing around not doing anything is far better
than story or plot!"

Julian (Gosling) is a drug dealer that operates out of a muay thai boxing club. One day, his brother Billy (Tom Burke) goes all nutso and ends up raping and murdering an underage prostitute. Even though he is caught by the police, Lieutenant Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) allows the girl’s father to beat Billy to death…and immediate cuts off the man’s arm for allowing his daughter into that awful industry. Billy and Julian’s mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives in the country and in-between unspeakable vulgarity that shouldn’t be heard from a person’s mother and being way too creepy towards her son, she demands that Julian find her brother’s killer and enact some justice for the family. What follows is a whole lot of scenes of people staring at things or at other people with dead eyes and, I’m pretty sure, nothing else happens.

Shown:  Staring.

To put it bluntly, Only God Forgives was boring. Like really, REALLY boring. Like “OH MY FUCKING GOD! THIS IS SO FUCKING BORING!” All the story, intensity, action and interesting characters that was in the last film directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and starred Ryan Gosling is missing and what is left in its wake is a slow moving mess.

Changing it up a little bit with a reach out to the person the character is staring at.

While the story is pretty straight forward and simple (revenge stories usually are—but there’s nothing wrong with that because who doesn’t love a revenge story?), the movie proves that Refn may have bitten off more than he can chew as he was clearly unable to get this simple story to feature film length and decided to pad the ever-loving fuck out of it!

More staring?!?  Slow down, movie.  I can't keep up with this break-neck pace!

And now awkward dinner conversation with a mother who
says things too filthy for me to, can we go
back to the staring?
90% of the film is characters just staring off camera at other people. These scenes are accompanied by either a static camera or Refn panning the camera in towards the dead-eyed stare while shrieking music plays in the background. While some of these visuals may work to add some tension to sequences if used probably, these sequences almost become a sad joke as it looks like Refn has no idea what he’s doing and thought, “Hmm, my story is an hour and fifteen minutes short of getting to a proper running length…um, let’s film a bunch of scenes of the characters staring uncomfortably.” I’m pretty sure that if you edited only 17 seconds out of every shot of a character staring into the darkening void that is before them, the film would only end up with a running length of 13 minutes.

Changing it up again, here's staring out of the corner of Chang's eyes.
Very clever, Refn.

This over reliance on having his actors zone out and have it captured on film also works to showcase that Refn's script was only a page or two long as no one is saying a single word during these staring contests. It became so quiet that I actually forgot that Ryan Gosling has the ability to speak while I watched the film.

Dammit, even the background just stares at you.

Like Drive, this movie has its share of violence that was almost shocking enough to jar the characters out of their mental disconnect but it isn’t enough to save the movie as ever scene is a book-end with more scenes of PEOPLE STARING BLANKLY! What exactly is God forgiving here? The fact that Refn can’t write a movie and that the epicness of Drive was a fluke?

Gosling knew he was in a movie, right?

Don’t get me wrong, this film has all the makings of being a decent, if not great, film. I already mentioned that tales of revenge are kick-ass in all kinds of ways and despite this film showing us that Nicolas Winding Refn probably can’t write a story to save his life, his visuals are incredible. Even though he decides to waste most of his screen time showing characters looking like they are in the middle of the most mind-numbingly boring yoga position in all of possibility, a lot of the film is filled with terrific camera work and shots. The film even has a great cast...even though their talents were wasted and not utilized to their fullest capabilities because Refn wanted them all to not talk and just stare off into the distance like they are currently engaged in a mental discussion about how they want their eggs in their breakfast platter tomorrow morning.

Alright, come one!  This is just getting ridiculous now.

All the elements are there to make Only God Forgives a good-to-a-great film but Refn seemed to consciously decide against it and go for a film with little-to-no-dialogue and more staring than even a film called Staring Contest: The Movie, should legally be allowed to contain.

And this happened in the movie, least it wasn't staring...but wait...
the audience is staring at them.  Dammit.

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