Film Review – Only God Forgives (2013): Eddie’s Take

Only God Forgives

Title – Only God Forgives (2013)

Director – Nicolas Winding Refn (Bronson)

Cast – Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott-Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm, Tom Burke

Plot – Julian (Gosling) and brother Billy (Burke) run a boxing and drug operation in Thailand. When Billy is murdered Julian must deal with the aftermath which includes cop Chang (Pansringarm) and Julian’s short fused mother (Scott-Thomas). Only God Forgives is a trip to the dark side unlike anything put on screen before.

“Wanna fight?”

Review by Eddie on 23/07/2013

If one film is destined to become a cult film this year it’s Winding Refns neon lit ultra stylish and no doubt divisive film Only God Forgives a film that will remain a talking point for many a year. Refn has made a film that defies categorization and shuns all real formalities of your everyday film. Here we have a movie that has no particular logic, no real story or character arcs just a wonderfully lensed and pretty much hands down handsome journey into the underworld that is Refn’s mind and that is Thailand.

Refns last collaboration with Gosling was the critically lauded Drive, a movie with about as much dialogue as this and equal amounts of blood splatter. It’s clear that Gosling and Refn enjoy working with each other and this is clearly a project for both of them to push the boundaries of that working relationship. Gosling is about as far away from a pin up hero in this movie, his character Julian barely utters more than 3 words at a time and hardly shows any form of emotion. It is though a fascination character, what makes Julian tick? How violent is he? These are questions that are asked and not perhaps answered but they make Only God Forgives such an enigma and such a must watch.

Much has been made about Refn’s use of gratuitous violence, in a story such as this though it feels necessary and the violence actually never feels unwarranted. This is a world were police would rather chop limbs than ask questions and a city were drugs and all forms of illegal activity run rampant. Refn captures this world with a stunning beauty, many scenes lit by neon lights or tinted with red. It’s almost an otherworldly feel that encapsulates the movie, making it a work of art whether you like the film or loathe it. It must almost be noted that Cliff Martinez who collaborated with Refn on Drive again provides a fantastic example of movie score matching movie feel.

Only God Forgives is hard to recommend because so many will find nothing at all here to grab hold of, but it’s also remiss of any film fan not to experience what Refn has served up. Here we have a tale of vengeance and depravity, a mysterious film that could all be a mere heightened sense of reality. Only God Forgives is a must see movie, although it will divide the film world like the swift cutting of Chang’s trusty sword.

4 hair pins out of 5

14 responses to “Film Review – Only God Forgives (2013): Eddie’s Take

  1. I definitely agree. I think it’s worth seeing just because it is so polarising – there are people who say it is pointless and pretentious, while others claim it’s the deepest, most complex piece they’ve seen in the recent years. I’m somewhere in between – also gave it 4 stars. It is certainly a beautiful piece and one with some interesting themes explored within it.

  2. I think I’ll go to the cinemas to watch it. I loved Drive and there were a lot of people who thought it was too slow or there wasn’t enough action. I believe some of the most interesting films are the ones who receive polarized reviews.

    • Totally agree Junkie – I would say it would be fantastic on the big screen as it’s beatuifully captured. Would also be interesting seeing audience reactiosn to certain scenes. (Eddie)

  3. I found this film fascinating. I didn’t connect as immediately as I did with Drive (although the soundtrack in Drive has a lot to do with its magic), but I am definitely going to watch it again, as well as track down Refn’s earlier works. Saw Valhalla Rising, and it was even more beautiful and violent, if you can imagine, with only slightly more of a narrative. Next is Bronson! If you’d like to read my review of Only God Forgives, check out Thanks for following, JordanandEddie!! Cannot wait to read more of your site as well!! Rockin.

    • Bronson is a fantastic hyper dream of a movie, it was when I realised just how powerful an actor Tom Hardy is forshadowing his work in Warrior and Dark Knight Rises. I am hanging out for Refn to take on a true Sci-Fi film think it would suit him to the core. Look forward to staying in touch (Eddie)

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