Only God Forgives (2013) Movie Review
Released : July 19th, 2013
Reviewed : Nov. 26th, 2013
Genre : Drama
Story (from IMDB) : 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.
(MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS!)
After the disappointment I felt when Drive hit and hearing the negative results of Only God Forgives I was skeptical going into this. Thankfully my lows hopes were hit and not in a good way.
We follow Julian who after finding out his brother was killed in a incident involving sex with a underage prostitute and killing said child is then thrown into the mix by his drug lord mother to kill the men involved in his brothers death. Now since that story can’t take up a entire deep film they also throw in side points to the story involving Julian having daddy problems (who only fled the country after killing his father) and big issues with his mom. It delves into the relationship Julians older brother had with his mother (a very over the top and almost verbally graphically explicit one almost done just for shock value). The story often stays paper thin in the main plot with all side aspects simply being tacked on and making you feel nothing extra.
Now a film that has a story like this doesn’t really have to have likeable characters and that’s good because none of these people are likeable. A few are very well hated but the problem is that I simply found myself not caring about anyone. I didn’t care or even hope revenge was sought after (because he did deserve it), I hated all scenes the mother was in, Julian is often a pile of emotionless bricks unless yelling at his girlfriend in the street telling him to give him back the dress, and the “bad” cop is emotionless as well. The violence as well is a issue because the film was hyped as having some extremely graphic violent scenes. That must have been from another film because it really wasn’t from here. You see some people get shot, some blood, a little swordplay but nothing that bad. Even with the dark gritty overtone of the film nothing is as bad as it was hyped to be.
Don’t get me wrong though the film looks great. Easily it’s best feature. The film is dark, gritty but yet sometimes colorful. The darkness with just shades of red work well with techno playing in the background during it. Many scenes are spent without dialog (though for the better because it is often horribly and sometimes down right laughable). Acting wise the film doesn’t shine. Ryan Gosling has one emotion pretty much which is just bland. He does have a anger fit every now and then but that’s all. Kristin Scott Thomas as Crystal “the mom” is horrible. All her scenes are laughable and not in a good way. Her acting was bad mix that with the horrible dialog she was given (one scene involved Julian saying how his brother died because he raped a 16 year old girl and her character replies with “He must have had his reasons”) and its no wonder I couldn’t stand her.
Overall they really dropped the ball with this. It may think it is a extremely deep and graphic movie with many underlying themes in it but instead its a shallow movie. A paper thin story with tacked on elements mixed with over hyped violence, bad acting, and atrocious dialog makes this a miss for sure. It gets point for looking good but that’s all it has going for it.