Review: Only God Forgives (2013)

Only God Forgives is a beautiful and provocative film that comes across like the anti Drive, Winding Refn won’t win any new fans with this but those who already appreciate the director will find a lot to like.

Posted August 12, 2013 by

Film Info

Director(s): Nicolas Winding Refn
Writer(s): Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm
Genre: a href="" title="Crime Films" target="_blank">Crime | Drama | Thriller
Synopsis: Seeking revenge for his murdered brother, Julian (Ryan Gosling) attempts to appease his mother and tracks down the police officer responsible, a potentially supernatural figure of vengeance.
US Release Date: 19 July 2013
UK Release Date: 2 August 2013





Total Score

Your Rating
1 total rating



Fantastic visuals and Winding Refn once again shows a mastery of on screen violence.


Almost deliberately inaccessible, at times its dreamlike structure will be an acquired taste.

Don't lose track - Follow Roobla

Our Film Review:

Only God Forgives comes with the weight of massive expectation heaped on its shoulders. Nicolas Windings Refn’s follow up to Drive, far from embracing that film’s success, seems to deliberately shy away from it and turns expectations on their head. It has a lot more in common with Valhalla Rising and his earlier films and at times feels a little like Winding Refn’s Kid A, a response to the success of Drive and almost a deliberate attempt to make a sparse and inaccessible film. However if you can stomach the first ten minutes and are aware of what you are walking into then Only God Forgives is a very good film indeed.

As with the director’s previous work the visuals here are striking to say the least, it is a beautiful film from start to finish and evokes a dreamlike feeling throughout. The heavy use of red sets up an uncomfortable atmosphere throughout (at times evoking the more surreal scenes from Twin Peaks) and this, combined with masterful use of extreme violence, means that is certainly a challenging film – but it was never meant to be anything else.

Cliff Martinez is once again on scoring duties and whilst not as immediate or in your face as previous scores he delivers an understated evocative soundtrack that really gels with the feel of the film and enhances the ethereal quality so well established by the visuals.

The lack of dialogue is evident from the start and some people will struggle with this, it does make it more difficult to develop characters when they are given little or nothing to say but it is of credit to Winding Refn and his abilities as a visual story teller that the story still continues to make sense throughout.

Additionally the performances are fantastic and despite his presence on the poster Ryan Gosling’s Julian takes a little more of a backseat than one might expect. He plays his role well but its the other two leads that really shine here. Vithaya Pansringarm as the brutal and mysterious Thai police official Chang is absolutely superb and threatens to steal the show if it wasn’t for the fantastic Kristen Scott-Thomas playing completely against type as Julian’s over-powering matriarch.

Only God Forgives will prove divisive amongst audiences and critics alike but if you are already a fully paid up Winding Refn devotee then seek this out at once as it really is quite brilliant.

Follow Paul Anderson
Write for Roobla Film

Leave an Opinion

Leave your mark by commenting your opinion below - no signing up required!
Just start writing and hit 'post comment'.

0 Opinions

Be the first to opinionate!

Ready to Opinionate?

Opinions are moderated and may not appear right away
Enjoy this Content?