The partnership between director Nicolas Winding Refn and leading man Ryan Gosling is proving to be a fruitful, fascinating one. Following the ingenious rejuvenation of the crime flick with Drive is this transcendent take on the martial arts genre. It’s a dark, brooding revenge saga that contains moments of shocking violence, yet Refn infuses the film with elegance, humour, beauty, and even some restraint. The deft switches in tone both surprise and delight and Only God Forgives confirms that Refn is a modern auteur few can rival, a filmmaker to be reckoned with.
Gosling plays Julian, who runs a boxing club in Bangkok as a front for his drug business. When his brother is murdered his mother Crystal (an astonishing performance from Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives to claim the body of her favoured son, and demands vengeance. She sets Julian on course for a showdown with the mysterious cop, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm). (Notes by Michael Hayden.)
Recognising the influences of key films and directors on Nicolas Winding Refn and his work, see our season, Wanna Fight? (August 3rd – 31st).
Blog: “I certainly think it deserves to be seen!” – Michael Hayden on Only God Forgives
This film will be one of three films discussed in August’s The Critical Take, our FREE monthly film club, on Wednesday, August 28th at 18.30. Simply request your FREE ticket at the IFI Box Office.