Monday, July 29, 2013

Shamanistic neon: the Film Doctor's one sentence review of Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives

“In everything I do, I ask myself the same two questions: What would I like to see? What would I like to feel? I don’t want to understand or define these feelings so much as just go with the flow.” --Nicolas Winding Refn

"Vengeance is mine, I shall repay," says the Lord

Moving slowly as if submerged in neon red portentous mythical amber (with glitter ball karaoke interludes), his left profile ever drained of emotion, iconic mysterious Julian (Ryan Gosling) drags a man by his teeth down a dimly lit hallway in Bangkok when he's not walking slowly, fists clenched, past seedy Bangkok kickboxing rings and red neon-lit brothels back-lit by greenish yellow brickwork as a beautiful woman groans and thrashes and swoons on a bed before her idol Ryan(!) I mean Julian staring impassively, his iconic dreamy eyes focused on the middle distance, his arms tied to the chair with just the right amount of understated kink, looking up at the swirling neon blue glitter ball lights, his chin stubble immaculately immobile as the Godlike policeman Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) slices an assassin in front of a child or blinds another gangster pinioned in a chair or throws burning wok oil in the face of another hapless hood as the beautiful Thai models close their eyes and Kristin Scott Thomas (Crystal/mother/Satan/Lady Macbeth) shouts obscenities in fancy restaurants as the impassive Bangkok policemen sit and listen to the karaoke that Chang sings religiously, a blue print of the Great Wall of China behind him in the orange/green neon gleam in mannered noir splendor, and oh man did I ever prefer Drive.

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