Director Nicolas Winding Refn again combines with actor Ryan Gosling after the superb Drive to give you an altogether different outing Only God Forgives. Set in the shady criminal underworld of Thailand Julian Thompson (Gosling) runs a Bangkok boxing club as a front for his family’s drug business. When his brother Billy is killed to avenge the murder of a prostitute, Julian must deal not only with the arrival of his mother Crystal, but also a police chief who uses any means possible to get the answers he wants…
Not for a long time has a film divided audiences, some saying it is a masterpiece of cinema others saying its a load of boring pretentious nonsense, I stand somewhere between the two. Gosling plays his usual silent moody type, not given much dialogue he just seems to drift between scenes as if unsure of what to do next.
Kristin Scott Thomas who plays his mother cast against type at times shocking and sleazy but its the main villain, the brutal police chief played by Vithaya Pansringarm that stays with the viewer long after the film has finished. The film is slowly paced but builds to a shocking and offbeat climax but all done with amazing visual style. You have to admire the director for what he is trying to achieve, but ultimately he will alienate a lot of viewers going into this thinking its an all-out action film.
Is it great? To be honest parts of it yes, you will love it or hate it and be warned it is brutally violent at times, but its a film you certainly won’t forget for a long time.
The Blu ray released by Lionsgate certainly does the films visuals justice. Beautiful to look at with stunning colours and deep blacks the 1080p presentation is top drawer. Audio is served by a DTS-HD MA 5.1 audio track. Again superbly rendered it will pull you into the film, surround speakers are used well with the haunting music score standing out.
Extras include 12 behind the scenes clip, to be honest, nothing special, better is the audio commentary that features the director in conversation with Damon Wise of Empire magazine and is a fascinating, and surprisingly confrontational making it an essential listen.
Overall a film and disc that maybe you should rent first and then decide which side of the fence you sit on.
FILM: 7 PICTURE: 9 AUDIO: 8 EXTRAS: 6