The Thai boxing, Thai karaoke bars, and Ryan Gosling’s role in turning his Thai love interest from a typical foreigner’s plaything to a respectable hooker his character genuinely loves.
by Ada Tseng
There has been much criticism of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives, which by all accounts was meant to be a smaller project than it ended up being once Ryan Gosling (who previously collaborated with Refn in Drive) offered to star in the film.
Since then, it’s premiered as an official competition film at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was simultaneously boo-ed and given a standing ovation. It’s been mocked profusely online while winning the Sydney Film Prize in June’s Sydney Film Festival. It’s been described as shockingly violent, which is true… if you have never seen an Asian film before (in which case, you know that movie bad guys with swords sever limbs, and you expect sharp objects to go in painful holes).
But even critics who find the film empty will admit that all the shots are beautiful, even (or perhaps especially) the ones of Gosling shadowed in red-tinted darkness, brooding in front of exotic wallpaper while the camera slowly zooms in. Also, Kristin Scott Thomas is pretty hilarious as Gosling’s foul-mouthed, bleached blonde, insane mother.
But this is Asia Pacific Arts, so what about the fact that this twisted tale is set in Thailand?
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