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Love it or hate it? Time Out readers on Only God Forgives

Posted at 11:30 am, August 22, 2013 in Arts & Entertainment
Only God Forgives review

We know what we thought of shocking, Gosling-starring gorefest Only God Forgives: empty, silly, ‘a corpse’, and deeply ☆☆☆☆-worthy.

But it’s proved as divisive with our readers as it has with the film critics. Take our Review of the Week for example:

“Jacobean tragedy transposed to modern-day Bangkok. Sheer bloody genius. It invites comparisons with ‘Blue Velvet’ – Ryan Gosling’s violent character could be David Lynch’s sociopath Frank Booth: both have an all-pervading sense of doom (and then there’s the karaoke). I cannot remember the last time a film gave me palpitations and sweaty palms, but that’s what happened here as the protagonists moved inexorably towards a dreamlike conclusion. There’s very little dialogue, but who wants clunky exposition marring this sensual, magnificent film? Plaudits all round. Cannot wait to see what direction writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn will take next.” ★★★★★ Robert Evans

Nonsense, says Hugh:

“You can certainly say it is a work of singular vision – for that alone we can be grateful. It is almost as if director Nicholas Winding Refn has taken all the good regard generated from his last film, Drive, and experimented to see just how far he could use it to push the audience before they stopped to question the actual worth of the work at hand. Whilst some may describe it as ‘experience cinema’, I felt the more accurate term would be ‘ordeal cinema’, which for a film as hollow as this, left me with the distinct feeling of having been had.”  ☆☆☆☆

Nicola F agrees:

“Worst film I ever watched. Actually began to lose the will to live. Couldn’t wait to leave. I honestly don’t understand how anyone could have liked it.”  ☆☆☆☆

Well Nicola, allow LBrown to explain:

“I loved the dreamlike atmosphere, the religious symbolism and, especially, the soundtrack and the way the director uses it in the manner of a silent film to highlight and explain the actions (or non-actions), facial expressions and emotions being played out on screen when there isn’t any dialogue present.” ★★★★★

She also has a theory as to the critical reaction:

“I went expecting Gosling to be the film’s anti-hero, and was surprised to find him playing a weak, lost and emotionally stunted man – totally at odds with the strong, silent persona that comes across in the trailer, and rather a disappointment. Although Gosling gave it his best shot, I think it’s his performance which pushes the film into parody at times, and not Kristen Scott Thomas’s ‘mother’ character as suggested by others. I think peoples’ expectations would have been different with another actor (and, no, I don’t know who – a young Edward Norton, perhaps?), and the film wouldn’t have polarised opinion so much.”

L.Aline is exasperated with the haters:

“I don’t think it was style over substance at all. Just think of all those films with pointless, crappy dialogue. This movie eliminated it and focused on visuals, sound, and symbols. For me, it was a sensory, dreamlike experience. We all have dreams where nothing is truly defined, but still create a sense of dread and anxiety. Have movie goers gotten so lazy that they need everything spelled out for them? Everything tied up in a neat little bow?” ★★★★★

Clement thinks the answer is simple:

 “You make up for the lack of dialogue with your own feelings of what’s going on.” ★★★★★

Well actually, Moviegeekblog would rather not:

“The absurd stillness of the film  was rather dull, pointless and indulgent. With all those pregnant pauses where nothing really happened, ultimately it was just extremely boring…” ☆☆☆☆

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