4WuZHVegXm1cjf7tl8WGMqKqxE0 LA FIAMMA DEL PECCATO: Only God Forgives - Review

domenica 21 luglio 2013

Only God Forgives - Review

I realized at last why I haven't written anything in the last weeks.
Simply I had nothing interesting to write about.
Then yesterday I saw Only God Forgives and here I am.

Forget Drive. That amazing, ipnotic movie was Nicolas Winding Refn's first mainstream, in terms of story and characters. Now he's back to his original world, made of allegories and symbols hidden behind the violence. And something more.
Before the silent and charming Ryan Gosling of Drive there were no heroes in Refn cinema, only weak men fighting against themselves most of the time. Julian, Gosling's character in Only God Forgives, is a lost son. He has no father and a mother he can't stop to loving even if she's a real witch. Refn shows the dark side of a family portrait where there are no good characters, only damaged ones.
Then suddenly a tough, metaphoric father arrives to punish their sins. Chang is a retired cop who has his own code, which he uses to rule his world. It's built with blood, just like most of Refn's main characters. I'm thinking about Mads Mikkelsen's role in Valhalla Rising, or Tom Hardy's one in Bronson, for example. The only one who recognizes the rules of the violent world he's living in is Julian, but he's to weak to oppose his mother's strength. The sequence in which Julian has a vision about Chang coming after him is astonishing, something comparable to David Lynch's puzzles. Refn shows the sexual impulse and the death omen without caring about the logical sequence of events. Sometimes the editing is really flooring, and follows the subconscious laws more than the rational ones.
So the battle for Julian's soul is set. A tough father versus an awful mother. Ryan Gosling's role is a sort of contemporary, painful Oedipus. He knows (spoiler alert!) that Chang's punishment of his brother Billy's crime is justice, in a perverse way. He doesn't want to oppose to this, but he has no way out because his mind is obsessed with Crystal/Kristin Scott Thomas. The only way to escape from this trap is to pay a blood cost.
Only God Forgives is set by Nicolas Winding Refn as a slow, obscure nightmare in which a struggling man runs towards his destiny, and in the end he accepts it. In a very cathartic way, the movie has an happy ending, because Julian pays for his sin (loving too much, being obsessed by a monster/mother) and survives, being the only one who understood Chang's system of rules and fought following them.
Only God Forgives could be something really difficult to embrace for the audience, there's no doubt about that. The comparison with Drive could be damaging, this two movies have different universes and rules. I've been hypnotized by Refn's ability to show the black soul of his characters and also their pain, their lack of a decent interior life. Only God Forgives has a very simple story, enhanced by great visual scenes and painful symbols.
This movie hurt me, and this is why I loved it.