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Review: Only God Forgives, Because I Don’t…Yet

Only God Forgives Starring Ryan Gosling
Only God Forgives Starring Ryan Gosling

Whenever we sit down to watch a movie, we have the hopes that it will be entertaining to watch and understand. The sad truth is though, that isn’t always the case.  Sometimes, we have the misfortune of watching a bad or confusing movie.  And there are many reasons for a bad movie. It could be acting, story, any number of things.  There are also movies that we may think bad, but someone else may see as a tour de force.  Recently, I watched the movie Only God Forgives.  Going into watching it, I had only seen a trailer. I saw no press or reviews or anything on this movie. After my initial watching of the movie, I reflect back to the title, Only God Forgives, and think, its a good thing he does, because I don’t forgive them for making this movie.

Now, Iwill say this, I have developed two different thoughts on this movie, my initial reaction, and my thoughts after some research. I’ll give you my initial reaction first.

The filmstars Ryan Gosling. I am a Gosling fan. I really enjoyed Drive a lot. One of my favorite films that year. I also liked him in Gangster Squad too. The Notebook is the film many of you ladies like of his. So, I saw that he was in this and figured I’d give it a shot. Now, me not enjoying this movie was not his fault. I blame the director and writer, and, to a small measure, the cinematographer. His character has some similarities to his character in Drive, he doesn’t speak much, almost seems brooding, or that there is some strong emotion bubbling just under the surface. Ryan can do a lot with just his facial expressions, and due to his lack of dialogue, he has to do a lot of it.

One of the obvious things that jumps out at you immediately, is the lighting and shooting of the movie. The lighting really generates a lot of mood, and I wills ay it was one of my favorite, and one of the most irritating aspects of the movie. It makes some scenes and sets very visually striking, and other times feels distracting and makes some things you might want to see, hard to see. Combine that with some striking sets and very…linear and stationary feeling shots, you’ll either like it, or hate it.

"I can barely see my hands."
“I can barely see my hands.”

I won’t delve into the plot of the movie very much because I didn’t understand a lot of it, and some other aspects flat made me feel awkward. General points are, Ryan Gosling plays Julian, an American in Bangkok who runs a martial arts gym, and is involved in the family business,w hich appears to be the drug trade. He comes off as kind of awkward, had a strange relationship with his brother, and an even more bizarre one with his mother. There is also a police officer played by Vithaya Pansringarm. He doesn’t say much either, seeming to speak only when he needs to, but there is this vibe about him that immediately makes you know he is different. He seems to be the antagonist  opposite Ryan Gosling. You will see he has a penchant for slicing off limbs with his sword and karaoke.

This does NOT end well.
This does NOT end well.

When I was finished watching this movie  I was filled with questions and confusion. The ending seems kind of ambiguous and that may not sit well with some people who like a nice cut and dry ending. You won’t get that here. Another thing, you really will be confused by some of the scenes which, I wonder if it stems from a lack of understanding of Thai culture, or the director or writer was trying to make a statement. And lasty, you could easily find yourself not liking any of the characters, including Gosling’s Julian.

Anti Climactic Climax
Anti Climactic Climax

Now, after seeing the film, I started looking up some stuff about this film. Apparently, the opinions on this movie are very split. You like it. Or you hate it, and I’m seeing that most people hated it. After watching a video though, I think it may be because of a lack of understanding. Its not because the viewers are stupid, but that some of us have gotten so used to everything being spoon fed to us in movies. Everything is made clear, and we don’t have to figure things out. This movie will make you have to think and you will have to draw your own conclusions on many things. I also watched a YouTube video that gave his own opinion on things, and shed some light on some things for me, and has prompted me to plan to watch the movie a second time to see if I agree or disagree.

Only God Forgives Explained (Spoilers)

If you do plan to give this film a look-see, make sure you have your thinking caps on. You will have to think. You will have to answer your own questions and make your own mind up on many things in this film.

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