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Tanya Khoury: A moving piece of art
August 16, 2013
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The Refn Gosling duo are back again with yet another film that maybe to a lot of people’s disappointment is not the sequel to Drive (although most audiences will compare the films by default). This is a completely different kind of film, set in the rougher parts of Bangkok with perhaps one too many underlying messages. Nevertheless Refn is one of those directors who have so much talent; there was no way I was going to let this slip the radar. I had read a few articles on how ambitious Refn was in this film and other articles expressing their disdain to violence and what not, but that did not put me off. I don’t quite understand critics that harp on the violence when it comes to Refn’s films; this is not something new to his films and ever since the 90s Refn has presented violence throughout all his work.

The artistic brilliance of Only God Forgives outshines a disappointing story
Forget all the critics, let’s get into the crux of the film and see for ourselves. This is not a story about one specific character; Julian (Gosling) is the owner of a boxing club with his brother and friends, naturally that is only a front for a bigger and more illegal business that they are running. Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) is the Thai police chief who is out to ‘kill the cockroaches’ that disturb his streets and Crystal (Kristen Scott Thomas) is Julian’s mother who has flown to Bangkok to take care of business after a certain murder takes place. Those three character roles are pivotal to the film and each takes you on a different set of emotions and expectations as the film progresses.

As with most Refn films they are aesthetically flawless, this one is no different. Each scene is perfectly captured to fit the mood we are placed into, the colours, the angles and the crispness of movement is measured to the tee and you can tell that he is a perfectionist when it comes to delivery because the whole film looks like a moving piece of art. From a story perspective I have to say that this story isn’t one of my favourites; sure there are unforgettable scenes and some powerful delivery but on the whole it lacked depth. There was just not enough room for the film to be beautifully shot as well as being a great story to tell. Pansringarm was by far my favourite actor throughout the story, his poker face contempt and calmness present so much character on screen that everyone else seems to fizzle away in his presence. And as much as I am a fan of Gosling in all his beauty I felt that Refn should not have cast him in this role, as I had mentioned earlier they will both be automatically linked to his previous film Drive and his delivery in this film pales in comparison.

There will be many disappointed viewers mostly because this film is viewed in Refn’s pace and most audiences will feel that that pace is dragged out and unnecessary. I stand by my opinion of the director, he is most definitely gifted and in this film he only showed how much of an artist he really is. The story may not be much to show for but it surely shows that there will be more unique pieces of art that this director and his team will deliver. For the appreciation of cinematic genius I give this film 6.8/10.

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