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Only God Forgives

July 29, 2013


Any fans of Drive (2011) out there? Me too. My friends & I could not wait to see Nicolas Winding Refn’s newest film. I had my full crew of friends accompany me last Saturday to our local indie theater, The Moxie, to see Only God Forgives. Before I get into my review, I’d like to share the conversation I had with the girl selling me my ticket.

Me: “I need 1 ticket for Only God Forgives.”

Moxie girl: “That will be $9.”

Me: “Are you close to selling out  for that showing?” (asking in case my buddies need to swing by early)

Moxie girl: “No, we should be though.”

Me: “Have you already seen it?”

Moxie girl: “Yeah, I thought it was great.”

Me: “Oh cool. I saw a bunch of bad reviews online for the film today that had me worried. That makes me feel better & gives me some relief that I will like it.”

Moxie girl: “Have you watched any David Lynch movies?”

Me: “Yeah, I like his stuff.”

Moxie girl: “It’s kind of like that. I thought it was pretty awesome. It’s not Drive 2 though.”

Me: “I wish it WAS Drive 2! That would be awesome.”

That 1 sentence describing Only God Forgives stuck in my mind.

“It’s not Drive 2.”

I hope that no one goes into this film thinking it will be another Drive. Refn wrote & directed this film. He got Ryan Gosling to return in the lead role, as well using Cliff Martinez again to do the score. Only God Forgives debuted at Cannes Film Festival earlier in the year & was receive with as many jeers as it was cheers. It seems emotions of viewers after viewing the film haven’t changed too much. Some, like the Moxie employee I chatted with, really enjoy the film. While other audience members, most of my friends included, didn’t enjoy it too much. I think I might have fallen somewhere in the middle. There was a certain scene near the end of the film that really bothered me. It was just really disturbing. I’ll spare you the spoiler, but if you wish to search out what I’m referring to, (or message me) I’m sure you will figure it out.

There also just isn’t a whole lot of dialogue in the film. If you’ve seen Drive, imagine Ryan Gosling’s character actually talking less. Didn’t think that was possible? Neither did my friends & I before viewing this film. In a recent interview with Martinez & Refn, Martinez asked Refn after watching the film, “Where did all the dialogue go?” Refn replied, “I never shoot everything on the page. If I did, there’d be no element of surprise, and where’s the fun in that?” [Read that interview via Pitchfork here.]

 “Where did all the dialogue go?” -Cliff Martinez

I guess that is where the Moxie girl’s description of the movie comes in, it’s ” like David Lynch movies.” It is a really strange script & there are a lot of shots of people sitting & not saying a word. There are also just some bizarre scenes in the film. Being set in Thailand, there are a couple of regional songs that are sung at a local karaoke bar. (also a bit like a David Lynch scene) I don’t mind strange at all, but I can’t say I left the theater dying to see the film again.

On a positive note, I thought Cliff Martinez’s score for the film was brilliant. In a film like this one, you need some great music to capture the audience. He drew inspiration from the late Richard Wagner.  This movie takes you to some strange dark places, followed by some beautiful ones. That is also exactly how the soundtrack comes across. Often times dark, & sometimes quite beautiful.

So, go into the film with an open mind. Think art-house meets grindhouse. More than likely, you are either going to love or hate it. There are aspects of the film that I loved & others that made me wonder what Refn wanted from the film. Just don’t expect it to be Drive 2.

Film Rating:


OGF soundtrack

Soundtrack Rating:


Enjoy the epic track “Wanna Fight” bellow.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 29, 2013 11:34 am

    It’s more of a Drive prequel than sequel. Not for everyone that’s for sure, The Refn/Gosling/Martinez connection is still the boss though I think.

    • July 29, 2013 11:44 am

      I didn’t see any resemblance to Drive myself. Other than Goslin’s quiet character. Refn didn’t write Drive, but the Refn/Gosling/Martinez team up is still there. I watch anything Refn or Gosling decides to do in the future. Martinez is making some amazing music these days as well.

      • July 29, 2013 12:02 pm

        I saw a little, especially at the end *SPOLIER* when he saves the little girl. Drive is probably my favorite film of all time, I’m glad it wasn’t either the prequel or sequel. It stands on its own really. Not great, but watchable for sure. 🙂

      • July 29, 2013 12:46 pm

        Nice! I own probably about 20-ish blu-rays of just my favorite films & Drive is 1 of those.

  2. August 5, 2013 12:24 pm

    I didn’t expect this to be a typical, run-of-the-mill thriller like Drive. And for that, I was very interested with where it went, and what Refn could bring to the screen next. Good review Cooper.

    • August 6, 2013 9:43 am

      Thanks! I didn’t expect that either. I just tried to make sure no one goes in thinking that.

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