Ever since the first trailer premiere, I've been hotly anticipating what could have been one of the year's best films.
Guess what? It is!
Ryan Gosling stars as a Julien, a Thai drug dealer who also manages a boxing ring. He is conflicted between good and evil when his devilish mother (note: DEVILISH) pays a visit when Julien's brother is killed. A god-like cop played by Vithya Pasingram comes between Julien's mom's plan for Julien to take revenge.
That's just the plot. And the plot is only a small part of the film. That is what is potentially dividing so many viewers: the lack of a strong plot. I thought the plot (at least for material like this) was perfect in importance, since a stronger plot would only complicate the religious themes even more, and a lesser plot... less plot would lead to a pointless movie.
Themes in this movie are very evident. The cop, Chang, is a representation of God. He takes vengeance upon those that sin, even if their sin is eye-for-an-eye level. Chang is the ultimate representation of 'the buck stops here', for he uses violence to end violence.
Kristin Scott Thomas is Ryan Gosling's mom, Crystal. There is a certain amount of irony to the name, because she as a person is not pristine or perfect (like a crystal). She is the incarnation of the Devil. She is not seen doing anything remotely nice throughout the film. She always feels the need to insult and belittle others, and harm those that impede her.
Gosling is the man divided. He is devoted to his mother, and yet, does not want to harm others. He wants to live a normal life (normal based on drug smuggler standards). The two themes portrayed are like 'the two ways of life' from The Tree of Life. Both handle the necessary opposites distinctively and directly.
Only God Forgives makes up for the lack of substance with loads of style. Truly, this film is a masterwork of color. Every scene is soaked with distinct color, and every frame is positioned to perfection. The editing makes this film feel tight and like a non-stop thrill ride.
Outside of the film's unnecessarily graphic violence, it is a masterwork of thematic substance and rich style. Ignore other critics, and see the film yourself to make an opinion!