Movie review: Only God Forgives

Movie review: Only God Forgives
Stills from the movie Only God Forgives.

SINGAPORE - Movie Review. Crime-thriller.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (M18)

89 minutes/In Cinemas/ 3.5 Stars

The story: Bangkok crime boss Julian (Ryan Gosling) does all he can to keep his psychotic brother Billy (Tom Burke) in line but one day, Billy crosses the line.

Police chief Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) exacts vigilante justice but Julian refuses to retaliate. Enter Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), Julian and Billy's mother, a domineering woman who orders Julian to seek revenge.

This film, which was booed at the Cannes Film Festival when it premiered, is nowhere near as bad as its reception in France would suggest.

But neither is it as good as Drive (2011), also starring Gosling, a stylish, taut thriller built around the character of a laconic getaway driver.

Here, Gosling is just as tight-lipped; it is likely that he speaks fewer than a hundred words over this film's lean 89 minutes.

But where the Driver was a man of action, Gosling's Julian is a man of inaction. He broods and he spectates, until the final act when he comes face- to-face with Chang (Pansringarm).

Director Nicolas Winding Refn, working from his own script, sees Julian as a man who is unsure of his own masculinity, a fact pointed out by his mother Crystal (Thomas) to his escort- girlfriend Mai (Yayaying Ratha Phongam) in the crudest way possible during a dinner conversation.

Crystal emasculates Julian verbally but Chang's weapons of amputation exist in the form of swords.

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