Movies You Missed & More: Only God Forgives | Live Culture

Seven Days needs your support!

Give Now

Friday, November 22, 2013

Movies You Missed & More: Only God Forgives

Posted By on Fri, Nov 22, 2013 at 9:00 AM

This week in movies you missed: Ryan Gosling and Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, together again. To little purpose.

What You Missed

Brothers Julian and Billy (Gosling and Tom Burke) are drug smugglers who run a fight club in Bangkok. One night, Billy employs and murders a 16-year-old hooker. As the boys' mom (Kristin Scott Thomas) says when she shows up, "I'm sure he had his reasons."

The nature of those reasons is moot, because Billy quickly falls victim to vengeance engineered by a cop (Vithaya Pansringarm) with a sharp blade, a fine singing voice and strong notions of right and wrong.

Julian wants to let the matter rest there, given that Billy was kinda indisputably a dick, but Mom is having none of it. She taunts him with insults to his manhood until he reluctantly agrees to seek counter-vengeance. Big mistake.

Why You Missed It

Mixed cheers and jeers at Cannes 2013. Released in 81 U.S. theaters, none here. Now on Netflix Instant, etc.

Should You Keep Missing It?

As so often happens, my response to this movie was a dialogue between my inner teen and my inner adult.

Inner Teen: I love Ryan Gosling! I loved Drive! I liked Bronson and Valhalla Rising! I'm so psyched for this!

Inner Adult: Stop being such a fangirl. I've heard it's low on dialogue, stylistically self-indulgent and rich with allusions to movies you haven't seen, which means it will appeal only to hard-core cinéastes.

Fifteen Minutes In

Inner Teen: Well, it sure is ... red. Why does Gosling always have the same pissed-off expression [see image above]? I can see he's nicer than his brother, but what's his deal? Why does he pay prostitutes to do stuff while he just watches? Does that mean he's a good guy, or just a less-bad guy?

Inner Adult: Who knows? Who cares? I don't think we're meant to. All these spooky tracking shots of red-lit hallways are giving me strong Kubrick and Lynch vibes. It's kind of hypnotic.

An Hour In

Inner Teen: Why is Kristin Scott Thomas' character such a bitch? She's like a Real Housewife with 'roid rage. She reminds me of Cameron Diaz in The Counselor. Do bleached-blonde, spray-tanned American ladies represent Evil in art movies now?

Inner Adult: At least she's fun to watch. Nobody else is. I do appreciate the Thai cop, though; he's dedicated to his work. Impeccably orchestrated violence makes a nice break from all the floating through red- and orange-lit spaces. And the brothel scenes remind me of Blue Velvet.

As Credits Roll

Inner Teen: That was really boring. I didn't give a crap about any of the characters, and it had way, way more dead space than Drive, plus none of those fake-'80s songs I like.

Inner Adult: This reminded me of Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void, only shorter and with less rotating. A brilliant director makes a visually mesmerizing, narratively sparse film that is undoubtedly better when you're on mind-altering drugs.

I've never been a fan of deindividualized, archetypal characters, and Winding Refn appears to be heavy into those. But his other films had elements that kept me interested. I don't think a claustrophobic urban setting works for a story like this — it might have been better as a Western, with open spaces to distract us from the nonstory.

Inner Teen: Whatever. All I'm going to remember about this movie is red, red, RED. And how somebody found a really gross use for knitting needles.

Verdict: You already know if you'll like it.

This Week in Theaters

Here comes The Hunger Games juggernaut again with Catching Fire. My inner teen is into it.

Meanwhile, Vince Vaughn turns out to have hundreds of kids in Delivery Man, and Matthew McConaughey plays a very heterosexual HIV/AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club, at the Roxy.

This Week on Video

2 Guns, Crystal Fairy, Hannah Arendt, Paranoia, Planes, The To Do List, We're the Millers, The World's End.

Tags: ,

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2


Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact [email protected].

About The Author

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison

Margot Harrison is the Associate Editor at Seven Days; she coordinates literary and film coverage. In 2005, she won the John D. Donoghue award for arts criticism from the Vermont Press Association.

More By This Author

Latest in Live Culture

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2023 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation