Ryan Gosling's Only God Forgives draws mixed response at Cannes
Story by Jack Foley
RYAN Gosling’s Only God Forgives, the film that reunites him with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, has drawn a mixed response from Cannes, where it received its world premiere.
While most critics agreed that the film is high on style, many felt it lacked substance. And while some were nevertheless forgiving, others weren’t so.
According to Variety, the film actually attracted boos from some corners of the press screening, while others cheered.
Set in Bangkok, the thriller follows a boxing ring owner named Julien (played by Gosling) as he is coerced by his mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) into avenging his brother’s death at the hands of a mysterious, unhinged policeman.
In the pro corner, The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw wrote of the film: “Winding Refn’s bizarre infernal creation, an entire created world of fear, really is gripping. Every scene, every frame, is executed with pure formal brilliance.”
While The Daily Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin said: “Some of the most adrenalising moments in motor racing are not the victories but the crashes, and Only God Forgives is the spectacle of a brilliant young director spinning out in style. It’s a beautiful disaster.”
Total Film‘s Jamie Graham felt much the same way, writing that “Only God Forgives is a failure but a rather magnificent failure, made on Refn’s own terms”.
He continued: “It is a beautiful, hollow film, with the director’s insistence that Julian is fighting God – and that the film is about existential crisis – needing to be taken at its word.”
While The Hollywood Reporter described it as “a menacingly atmospheric mood piece that will not disappoint devotees of the Nicolas Winding Refn church of fetishistic hyper-violence”.
Of the downright negative reviews, meanwhile, Variety wrote: “The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does in Only God Forgives, an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn”.
While Time magzine opined: “The collision of violent spasms and art-film ennui leave the viewer’s brain bloody but unfilled.”
And What Culture wrote: “By far the most pertinent scene comes early on when we watch a girl masturbate while Gosling is tied down to a chair. What a wonderful analogy for the entire film.”
Only God Forgives opens in UK cinemas on August 2.
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