This week in Reel Shorts, Julian, a drug-smuggler thriving in Bangkok’s criminal underworld, sees his life get even more complicated when his mother compels him to find and kill whoever is responsible for his brother’s recent death in the uneven but stylized bloody thriller, Only God Forgives.
Danish writer/director Nicolas Winding Refn’s brutally-violent follow-up to his critically-acclaimed, Drive, is a deliberate character study that is equal parts boring as it is riveting, hence, the film getting booed at the Cannes film festival.
This story of true dysfunctionality centers on a withdrawn fight club promoter/drug dealer, who is asked to avenge the brutal death of his troubled brother by his uber-controlling and demanding mother, played by Scott Thomas, on a proud, sword-wielding Hong Kong police captain, played by Vithaya Pansringarm.
Ryan Gosling, who shined earlier this year in The Place Beyond the Pines, plays a similar character but with a whole lot LESS to say in this film, simply restraining his thoughts and desires, with one exception, throughout the entire story. His character is caught between a rock and a hard place, understanding that his brother’s actions that brought on his demise was wrong but his Oedipus complex and his twisted relationship with his mother, leads to a violent and bloody end.
This very stylized film has a collection of amazing sequences but unfortunately, they never come together to make a complete or satisfying film.