Doing violence to the senses in Only God Forgives

Doing violence to the senses in Only God Forgives
Director Nicolas Winding Refn (right) and actor Ryan Gosling (left) on the set of Only God Forgives.

SINGAPORE/LOS ANGELES - Directors often give their films a distinctive look and anybody who has watched the works of Nicolas Winding Refn will notice his penchant for bathing his scenes in bright neon colours. There's a reason for that - the Danish filmmaker is colour-blind.

"I like contrasting colours because it's the only thing I can see," says the 42-year-old over the phone from Los Angeles where he's busy promoting his film, Only God Forgives.

The thriller opened in Singapore on Thursday.

So it comes as no surprise that the movie is set and shot in Bangkok, with Refn explaining that the glitzy neon lights that illuminate the city at night make it look "magical".

The locals' deep spiritualism also fits in with Only God Forgives' religious subtext - Refn reveals that the movie was written while he was going through an existential phase in his life when his wife was experiencing a difficult pregnancy and the film's original concept was about a man's fight with God.

It also marks the second time Refn has collaborated with Hollywood's resident hunk Ryan Gosling after the pair first worked together on 2011's Drive which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and won a Best Director award.

It became Refn's breakthrough hit and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, earning over US$100 million worldwide.

But Gosling wasn't Refn's first choice for the leading man in Only God Forgives, which the latter actually wrote before Drive. It was only after the original actor dropped out that Gosling landed the role, since he had hit it off with Refn.

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