Gory Gosling flick is one bizarre affair

ONLY GOD FORGIVES (M18)

Crime thriller/89 minutes

Rating: 2.5/5

Heavy on violence and light on plot, the latest film by Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has had quite a divisive effect on critics.

During its debut at the Cannes Film Festival earlier this year, Only God Forgives reportedly had viewers in two distinct camps: Those who gave the flick a standing ovation and those who simply booed.

Despite being a massive fan of Canadian actor Ryan Gosling, who stars in the movie, I'm inclined to side with the second category of viewers.

Gritty as it may be, the Danish-Thai production feels pretentious and is, at times, overly macabre. In terms of pacing, it is slow and fails to engage.

Gosling plays Julian, the broody owner of a shady muay thai boxing club in Bangkok.

After his brother Billy is slain, their tyrannical mafia-boss mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) orders him to seek revenge on the killer.

Throw in a vigilante police chief, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), and things get even messier.

Gory neon-lit scenes, like when the malevolent Chang metes out "punishments" by severing body parts and inflicting torture without batting an eyelid, are drawn-out and gratuitous.

Meanwhile, Gosling himself is underutilised. He barely utters more than 20 lines throughout the film. Instead, as if in a trance, he stares on blandly, fighting invisible demons in his head.

Bizarre or brilliant? You decide.


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