The film’s tagline reads "Time to Meet The Devil", which is what Only God Forgives is all bout. This French-Danish co-production crime thriller film written and directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. The film follows ten years later after Julian killed a man and went on the run. Now Julian, a drug-smuggler and manages a Thai boxing club in Bangkok's criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty. But then sees his life get even more complicated when his brother murders an underage prostitute, the police call on retired cop Chang - the Angel of Vengeance. Also his mother, Crystal - the head of a powerful criminal organization, arrives in Bangkok to collect her son's body and dispatches Julian to find and kill his killers and 'raise hell'.
The film stars Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm and, introducing, Rhatha Phongam (Yaya-Ying) in her first major English language film. The performances in this film were somewhat poorly acted, as well as lacked general common sense and good characterization. Gosling's performance was intense but was filled with unnecessary moral and character-based ambiguities. Scott Thomas was just absolutely depressing and dull. Her character was not the least bit interesting nor was she empathetic. Pansringarm's performance was also intense and dangerously silent as Gosling's performance. But it lacked the general characterization that was needed for the villain and his motivations. Lastly, Phongma's performance was absolutely unnecessary and pointless. She was a supporting character that had the least amount of lines, lacked the most amount of basic general characterization and the most amount of common sense. I felt she was 'all-show' for the men to come into the theaters. Especially in her sexually explicit scenes (including her scene when she had to abruptly and randomly strip in front of Gosling's character).
Rather in the manner of Alejandro Jodorowsky, whose self-conscious conflation of the roles of charlatan and ringmaster of the unconscious Refn apes, Only God Forgives is a breathtaking concoction of often striking, but more often ludicrous, images. The result is a movie that, though it impressed some, in retrospect is clearly a minor, albeit often very confusing work. There's not enough art to justify the sickening reality of Refn's artistic method. The meaning of the film is not to be found in the mystical camouflage of the ambiguous and stoic nature (for what, one wonders? Evidently self-agrandizement rather than the well-being of his congregation of the deformed), but in the picturesque horrors and humiliations. They're all there, in a movie that is all guts (quite literally) but that has no body to give the guts particular shape or function. Under the influence, the film becomes a violent, would-be erotic freakshow, and that, I suppose, can be very heavy. For others, it is enough to make one yawn. However, on first blush it might seem no more than a violent surreal fantasy, a work of fabulous but probably deranged imagination. Surreal and crazy it may be, but it is also (one realizes the second time through) as fully considered and ordered as fine clockwork.
Simon says Only God Forgives receives: