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Series - Twitch Film Feature Series
Danish provocateur Nicolas Winding Refn reteams with his Drive star Ryan Gosling for this hypnotic, ultra-violent revenge saga set in the seamy underworld of Bangkok.
Winding Refn's polarizing new film sees him eschewing the sleekness and relative accessibility of Drive in favour of some truly grungy violence and a purposely oblique narrative; though certainly less abstract than Valhalla Rising, with Only God Forgives Winding Refn is clearly indulging his more purely atmospheric urges. Julian (Ryan Gosling), an ex-pat American who fled the US after killing a cop, now manages a Muay Thai boxing club in Bangkok as a front for a narcotics ring. After ten years, Julian is reunited with his mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas), the head of a large criminal organization, who arrives in Thailand to claim the body of her other son, who was murdered after savagely attacking a young prostitute. Hell-bent on revenge, Crystal forces Julian to descend into the Bangkok underworld to find the man responsible — a bloody quest that leads Julian to Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm), a retired cop with a samurai sword who just might be the earthly incarnation of the Buddhist god of retribution. In his second collaboration with the director, Gosling once again essays his pretty-boy/tough-guy act, but co-star Thompson, as his foul-mouthed, sociopathic mother, simply owns the screen every time she appears. "Emotionally breathtaking, aesthetically brilliant and immensely violent ... an enriched-uranium cake of pulp, with a neon sheen" (Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian).