Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s gritty existential crime drama, Only God Forgives stars Ryan Gosling (Drive), Kristin Scott Thomas (Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), and Vithaya Pansringarm (The Hangover Part II). Gosling stars as Julian, an American fugitive living in Thailand whose brother is killed after having savagely murdered a young prostitute. Kristin Scott Thomas plays his mother, Crystal, a crime boss who comes to Bangkok to collect her son’s body and seek vengeance for her murdered child. The vengeance doesn’t come easy as Chang (Pansringarm), the policeman out for justice, has resolved to rid his city of the corrupt underworld criminals.
Julien: It’s a little more complicated than that. He raped and killed a 16-year-old girl.
Crystal: Well, I’m sure he had his reasons.
Revenge dramas are nothing new, and Only God Forgives fits the mold to a tee. From the very beginning you can see that this story won’t end well by the indifference Julian seems to feel about his brother’s death, and the domineering way his mother controls him. The complicated relationship between Julian and his mother has Oedipal written all over it, leaving the viewer feeling dirty. It doesn’t help that the introverted drug kingpin has enough sexual hangups to fill a movie of its own, making you wonder if you aren’t imagining the incestuous nature of their mother/son relationship like you hope. Director Nicolas Winding Refn describes Crystal as “Lady Macbeth meets Donatella Versace,” which is an apt description if I’ve ever heard one. Crystal’s scheming and diabolical nature spurs her son on a quest you never quite believe he can pull off, but leaves you hoping he will and rid himself of his mother’s control in the process. (More…)