Only God Forgives

Kristin Scott Thomas: a glass act.
Kristin Scott Thomas: a glass act.

Julian’s boxing club in Bangkok is a front for his drug business. He runs both using as few words as possible. His brother Billy murders a prostitute, so local cop Chang arranges for the girl’s father to beat Billy to death. Chang wants to clean up the city, even if it means littering it with severed limbs: he likes to use a samurai sword (a wakizashi, if I’m not mistaken) to deliver his own brand of justice.

Julian’s mother arrives from the US, demanding vengeance for Billy. Her childcare reading was probably Sophocles and The Crime Matriarch’s Guide to Raising Young Boys: she’s glamorous, foul-mouthed and vicious. Battle commences.

Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn’s last film, Drive, was moody and violent: this is even more of both, and its pace is grindingly slow. Five reviewers walked out of my preview screening. But every shot is beautifully composed, if that’s more important to you than story. 4/10

Released July 18, 2013.


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