Ryan Gosling: Julian
Kristin Scott Thomas : Crystal
Yayaying : Mai
Vithaya Pansringarm : Chang
Nicolas Winding Refn
Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian killed a man and went on the run. Now he manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation. Respected in the criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty. When Julian’s brother murders an underage prostitute, the police call on retired cop Chang – the Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the father to kill his daughter’s murderer, then ‘restores order’ by chopping off the man’s right hand. Julian’s mother Crystal – the head of a powerful criminal organization – arrives in Bangkok to collect her son’s body. She dispatches Julian to find his killers and ‘raise hell’.
It’s “Drive” situated in Bangkok
Refn wants to show clearly what he’s good in. Namely bringing a simple story to a higher level by stylistic and artistic tricks . As with “Drive” there is a lot of commotion about this movie and there are pro’s and contra’s of this movie. Refn apparently seems to be a huge fan of David Lynch. Some will consider it as a work of art . Others will qualify it more as complete nonsense and a waste of time when you watch this movie . My opinion lies in between those two and consider it as a great achievement to make an artistic tale of a meaningless story. The intellectual movie audience obviously will give a standing ovation for this one and it will lead to all kinds of theories and opinions. Think long enough about it and you’ll discover a deeper philosophical content with appropriate symbolism . If you don’t think about it too long, it is actually an empty box with careful attention to the correct ISO settings and lenses that were used .
Without a doubt , most images are aesthetically pleasing with its esoteric , neon exposures and the numerous moments where the characters are looking silently around. However, most passages are sometimes so absurd and hilarious. The sequence of a murder , the revenge of the daughters father and a Karaoke bar, in that order, gave me on one side a wondering impression , and on the other hand, I could not suppress shaking my head, chuckling . The karaoke is reused a few times in this movie. I’m still wondering what the symbolic value this has.
When you look at the characters it seems like a bunch of autistic persons , who react in the most unnatural way to situations ,take their time to give a meaningful response and after that start staring at an infinite point. Each of them master the best “Bold and the Beautiful”-staring technique. Gosling is actually a duplicate of his character in “Drive” . A silent person with the empathy of a good working American fridge . The news about the death of his brother, not even makes a small change in his facial expression . The fact that he’s actually totally harassed and ignored by his mother , raises the same dispassionate attitude .
The entire movie is a concatenation and a secure editing of fragments with lots of neon light and proportional masterfully placed image impressions . A snapshot of a belt , a beautiful oriental girl behind red fluorescent beads , a flash of bodybuilders , a karaoke bar , at the ceiling staring people …. Take all the moments away where someone meaningless stares at the horizon , and you keep a simple revenge story of roughly 20 minutes.
To make it acceptable for a larger audience you throw some bloody fragments in it and a realistic, lively fight where Gosling end up with a rather damaged face.
In short : a simple revenge story held together by arty interventions . In my view, not such a work of art as it should appear to be.
My rating 3 /10
Links : IMDB