Director Nicolas Winding Refn's latest film, Only God Forgives is both simultaneously brutal and brilliant. Brutal in that it's at times, agonizing to sit through. Brilliant, because it pulls no punches and forces it's audience to not only think, but often fend for themselves. The end result is an absolutely haunting cinematic experience. This film is not for the faint of heart, or closed minded/intellectually challenged.
So why on Earth would anyone want to see Only God Forgives? Because it's damn good that's why. Only God Forgives appears to be Refn's knee-jerk reaction to the success of his 2011 breakthrough film Drive. While Drive was like a modern day fairytale, with it's dreamy atmosphere and soundscapes, Only God Forgives is a straight up nightmare. Refn has gone on record saying:
Watching Only God Forgives wasn't a fun night at the movies. It felt more like homework, analyzing Refn's art house drug experiment push the boundaries of story telling. Film is ultimately a visual medium, it's simply moving pictures after all, and by film's end Only God Forgives, with it's minimal dialogue, emphasis on symbolic imagery and Cliff Martinez's BRILLIANT score, hammers that home in spades. For that I'd say Refn's latest film is a rousing success...and totally fucked up.
WARNING: *SPOILERS* So here's the rundown to Only God Forgives' story (or my interpretation at least).
Chang, the police official with the wicked sword is God. He literally sees and knows all that goes on within Bangkok and dispenses Old Testament style justice as needed. Ryan Gosling's Julian character is haunted by his fucked past/family, especially his mafia/incestuous lovin' mother (who just might literally be the devil). He's angry about his lot in life and wants to change but due to his "troubled " upbringing he can't escape his family and their criminal/evil life. At one point Julian tries to defend his mother and fight Chang and naturally gets his ass demolished...you can't fight God and win. Eventually Julian proves he's not a despicable soul like the rest of his family and is "forgiven" by God in typical Refn, aka utterly twisted, fashion.
If you saw the film and didn't catch any of that maybe seeing it again with this understanding might change your opinion. That or you still hate it because it's a painful, agonizing mess. Who knows?