One of my most anticipated films this year is Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn's action thriller Only God Forgives, which is sure to be an insanely good movie with a stylized look, and crazy ultraviolence.
Gosling plays Julian in the film, who "lives in exile in Bangkok where he runs a Thai boxing club as a front for the family’s drugs smuggling operation. When Julian’s brother Billy is killed their mother, Jenna (Kristen Scott Thomas), arrives in the city. She wants revenge and forces Julian to find the killer. Julian’s contacts in the criminal underworld lead him directly to The Angel of Vengeance, a retired police officer who knows everything and who is both Judge and Punisher. Jenna demands that Julian kill The Angel of Vengeance, an act that will cost him dearly."
Thanks to The Playlist, we have some new photos from the film to share with you, along with a statement from the film's director where he talks about the film, the original concept, and compares it to the previous work that he's done.
The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life - we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy - and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.
With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.
With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive - all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic - we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.
In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.
This movie is going to be awesome! Only God Forgives comes out on May 23rd. Below the new photos is a new international poster.