Ryan Gosling-starrer “Only God Forgives,” which opens in select theaters across the U.S. on Friday, has already been panned by a number of movie critics, despite winning best-film honors at the Sydney Film Festival last month and being a talking point at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, the movie, which critics have called darkly violent, shows Gosling’s character, a drug dealer, avenging his brother’s death. This is the second time Refn is collaborating with Gosling after the two teamed up for the “Drive” in 2011.
“Drive” was commercially successful -- reportedly drawing a box-office collection of more than $77 million worldwide, which was six times its $13-million-dollar budget -- and managed to win over critics. However, “Only God Forgives” might find it harder to convince critics and moviegoers if the initial reviews are anything to go by.
“The Danish filmmaker's latest theater of the macabre is brutal, bloody, saturated with revenge, sex and death, yet stunningly devoid of meaning, purpose, emotion or decent lighting,” Betsy Sharkey, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, wrote. “Seriously. Artful shadows can certainly set a mood; too many and it merely looks like someone is trying too hard."
“Only God Forgives” scored an approval rating of only 33 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, the movie review aggregator, with The Wall Street Journal’s Joe Morgenstern writing on the website that the film is “the kind of remarkable disaster only a very talented director can make after he finds success and is then allowed to do whatever he wants.”
Gosling’s acting has not won any praise either and a number of critics pointed out that his performance lacked the emotional appeal required to pull off the character. “His impassivity here borders on the comatose, and he utters fewer words than the keynote speaker at a convention of mimes,” Chris Knight of the National Post wrote.
But, according to The Kansas City Star, moviegoers could give the film a shot for actress Kristin Scott Thomas, who plays the role of Gosling’s mother. She brings life into the character of a seductive blonde, and although Thomas' character appears in only a quarter of the scenes, “every time she’s there, there’s something to see,” The Kansas City Star report noted.