Only God Forgives reunites actor Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn, following their collaboration on the neo-Noir sensation Drive. We should be getting an official trailer in the foreseeable future; however, until then, there's a 20-second preview clip available to tide us over.
The story revolves around Julian (Gosling), an exile living in Bangkok - because he killed a police officer ten years earlier - and managing a Thai boxing club, which is the front for his family's drug-smuggling operation; however, when Julian's brother Billy (Tom Burke) murders a prostitute, it sets in motion a bloody chain of events. Rounding out the cast are Oscar-nominee Kristin Scott Thomas as Julian's ruthless mother Jenna and Vithaya Pansringarm (The Hangover Part II) as retired cop Chang, nicknamed the Angel of Vengeance.
In terms of atmosphere and visual style, Only God Forgives shares many a quality with Drive. That includes the neon-lit locations, darkly Impressionistic landscape and another brooding electro-pop score composed by Cliff Martinez. Gosling's stoic mannerisms also recall his Driver character; though, you can expect somewhat less of an emotionally-vulnerable performance this time around, judging by early set images showing the actor bruised and battered (not to mention the promo poster, featured below).
All things considered, though, this seems like more than just Drive 2.0 (not that it would be a bad thing, per se). For example, Only God Forgives reteams Refn with Bronson director of photography Larry Smith and the shot selection featured in this early footage reflects that change from Drive cinematographer Newton Thomas Siegel's approach. That includes unobtrusive angles and (possibly) extended takes during what promise to be brutal, yet artistically-satisfying, boxing sequences (e.g. "The Shanghai Job" from Skyfall).
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Similarly, Only God Forgives is the first project written solely by Refn since I'm the Angel of Death: Pusher III, after collaborative scripting efforts on both Bronson and Valhalla Rising and Hossein Amini (47 Ronin) adapting James Sallis' Drive novel. As mentioned before, themes and content bring to mind Asian revenge genre fare with its unflinching philosophical outlook and morally-murky undercurrents (I Saw the Devil, Oldboy, etc.).
Refn deserves the title "autuer" for his continuing explorations of the human capacity for redemption through tales of horrific violence; indeed, there's little reason to think Only God Forgives will fail to satisfy the followers he's earned over the years (us included).
Only God Forgives is expected to premiere at this year's Cannes Film Festival (like Drive), before reaching U.S. theaters by the second half of 2013.
Source: Youtube [via Indiewire]
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