Friday, 18 December 2015

'Only God Forgives 2013' Only God Forgets 16/12/2015

Figure 1: 'Only God Forgives' Poster
This film review will focus on the film 'Only God Forgives', a story about a man named Julian (Ryan Gosling) who runs a gym but also is a drug dealer. Lt Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) is this counterpart to Julian, believing himself to be a god and a protector of his own. The film came out in 2013, was directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and was produced by Lene Borglum. The movie as a whole is visually stunning! The story itself is also very good. But what lets this movie down the most is the way it is paced, it very static and odd, not much can be said for the actors either, if Julian had walked at normal speed for the film, the film would have lasted 30 minutes."The acting is equally choppy (pardon the pun). Ryan Gosling is required to show emotion in exactly two scenes, surprise in one and anger in the other, but his performance is otherwise so monotonous that his outbursts work as clunky, unwelcome, and hilarious intrusions in the dream-like atmosphere of the film."(A Arikan. 2013)

Figure 2: Julian's Fists
The score for 'Only God Forgives' was composed by Cliff Martinez and music that was made for the film is 'Ear-Gasmic'. It compliments the film so well, giving it so much more kick and depth to every scene. The fight with Lt Chang especially stands out because of not on;y the intensity of this fight but then that techno vibe jumps in and you remember that even though they are using the traditional of physical close quarters combat to resolve a conflict they still are living in an age where technology has been advanced, and with it our techniques and methods. Some calmer encounters with characters in the film the music has this very soft tone that can really speak to you, as if to calm the angriest people, which we can see Julian is a very stressed man, then having him in a scenario where he can feel calm, 'then' the music is played is almost as if he is able to forget the horrors of what he actually does and the prices he needs to pay for his actions."If you’re prepared to settle into the film’s unorthodox rhythms, you’ll be rewarded by Cliff Martinez’s superb score, which perfectly complements the film’s wild mélange of elements, acknowledging its Thai setting with eerie Eastern sounds that, by the end, feel like the spirits of Bangkok are getting ready to rise up and cleanse the world of Crystal and her immoral brood."(D Wise. 2013) The sound design as a whole for the film was very good, almost like the film is one big orchestra of various sounds and instruments, the speed of Julian's fists moving and Lt Chang's precise, powerful punches really show how these two are different.

Figure 3: Crystal
The actual story itself for the film is very good, but where it fails hardest is the way its presented. Its all well and true being able to say the reason everyone moves slow is to invoke a feeling of power and control, but the way its done in this film is to such an extreme that the film somehow kills itself. The plot itself is very deep and rich, but it is presented in a way which it is very hard to spot some key emotional moments from characters because you sit there only paying attention to when some moves normally and not like a snail. The brother who had died at the start of the film was almost unheard of in the film even though he is mentioned quite a bit, he clearly plays an emotional role in the film but is very hard to spot due to the way the film is made. There was clearly something between Julian and his brother as Crystal (Kristin Scott) compares the two and describes the brother almost as if he was some sort of 'Alpha' figure. Despite the movies layout the acting in the film is very good, having these situations which people are more or less throw into with now exit and then having to try and find a way out is a very interesting concept, especially when you have characters as strong as Crystal and Lt Chang. They are the leaders of both of the families and their intentions are perfectly clear right from the very start, to love and protect their families no matter the cost. Lets start with Lt Chang, right from when we first meet him he is extremely powerful in his own way. Having this knowledge of combat and the way he handles situations shows his strength as an individual, having this almost 'machine like' personality to him, like in the chase scene. As he chases his attacker he not only knows the area well enough to predict where he will end up, but then finds a pan of boiling oil and not only throws it into his face to damage him, but to blind him as well, then he proceeds to question the man until he gets what he needs. Crystal on the other hand is much more complex, what she does not have in combat knowledge she makes up in cryptic mind games and control over others, just look at the relationship between Julian and her. Julian is almost like a dog begging to its master, he will do whatever he is told and then proceed to suck up to her when the deed is done. He is also mocked by his mother about his 'Erotic Physical Traits' in front of his friend Mai (Rhatha Phongham) he takes it like its absolutely nothing, almost as if he's used to it. The fact she is also a parental figure reinforces how much control she can have over someone, a parental figure is someone you can look to for guidance and love, so the fact Julian is also her son can explain why he acts the way he does around her.

Figure 4: Hallway
The best bit about this film by far though is the set design, almost every single shot in the film looks like it could either be a wallpaper for a background or a poster. The colour that have also been picked for certain shots are also very distinct, for example one of the most used colour in the film is red. Red can symbolise many things, such as love, joy, passion, anger, rage and pain (Tone of Blood). It appears throughout a large majority of the film and when you find out the films setting you can understand quite clearly why. Drug dealing, prostitution and fighting have all usually been know as dangerous jobs, but for some of these job can bring great pleasure, Drug Dealing can make lots of money, prostitution can sexual pleasure someone and fighting can give you an adrenaline rush like no other. However they can all have bitter outcomes that can end in violence, so the colour red is perfect for these scenarios. The blues in the film can also mean many things, especially neon blue. "Bangkok at night is made to look infernally coloured, soaked in red and neon."(Standard. 2013)Blue is usually associated with feeling of sadness, depression, calmness and sometimes even fear, how this 'Neon' blue gives the impression of claustrophobia, excitement and anxiety. Once again if we look where these colours have been used there is a very common pattern, Julian's bathroom, the strip club, the city and the apartments all have some sort of blue colouring to them. Then there are the darks and blacks, black is usually a colour associated with fear and unknown, depending on how harshly it is used. A large majority of the film is set at either night time or later hours, so these other colours are what are there to more or less 'Light the way'. The best example there is in the film of the colours are the apartments, they are fill with red, blue and black, never really mixing with one another. The effect that it gives off it that from the outside every room could be the same, however behind each door can either hide a dark secret or hidden truth, red symbolising the potential danger, blue symbolising the the calm exterior and the black door representing the fear of the unknown that you could potentially be about to open.

Figure 5: Statue
The colour gold can represent wealth greed, however is can also represent power. There is a particular scene where Crystal is talking to a henchman, but appears to be illuminated by this very soft gold glow. The reason initial reason would be to show she has wealth, but that is not the case, we see what kind of grip she has over Julian so who is to say she does not have this kind of grip over someone else? showing she has 'Power'. Now here is where thing can get interesting, because there is one scene right at the start of the film that can perfectly summarise the film in seconds, the statue of the fighter. The statue is is made out of what appears to be gold, but at the same time it is very hard to tell due to the colours around it and the colour bouncing off of it. Then take the background, it is a bunch of black strips that conceals the surroundings of the statue with the occasional line of red here and there. Once placed all together the message this scene gives off is this, the statue represents the the film as a whole, a situation that needs to be resolved, however we cannot perfectly make out all of the details on the statue, these being what is hidden from us so the films events doesn't have to show the illegal work that goes on (Drug Dealings), but the red shows the what has partially influenced the film, through violence and passion something has been forged for everyone to see and bask in awe or fear about. Now this could be one of the more impressive part of the film so hands down the cinematography is near flawless, however with such distinct contrast this film can at time be a little confusing.

Biblography

A Arikan
Only god Forgives movie review (2013).
[online] Directed by N.W. Refn. 
(Accessed on 16.12.15)

D Wise
Wise, D. (2012) Only god Forgives.

Standard
Standard 'Only god Forgives - film review' (2013).
[online] At: 
(Accessed on 16.12.15)

Image Biblography

Figure 1: 'Only God Forgives' Poster

Figure 2: Julian's Fists

Figure 3: Crystal

Figure 4: Hallway

Figure 5: Statue

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