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Friday, 11 December 2015

Space Oddities : Only God Forgives (2013)

Jumping ahead to Nicolas Winding Refn`s Only God Forgives (2013), a modern horror film
following the same footsteps as
Suspiria (1977) with mixed reviews due to its artistic view on the genre. Using the same colour theory and contrast in their scenes, Only God Forgives uses strong red, blue and yellow tones to create a dangerously sensuous atmosphere where instead of using red just for bloodshed, most of the time it is used to describe the lust and sexual atmosphere within the strip clubs or in the wrestling ring when Julian is going to get beaten by the cop. Overall, this film although having minimal plot was quite interesting to look at, where unlike Suspiria the soundtrack didn`t make the horror a terror for the audience.

Refn said, "Emotionally, our artistic expression consists of sex or violence. It all boils down to those two pure emotions that we have." (Ebert 2013) 

As far as that quote goes , the film conveys the message quite well , with these two emotions being all the characters seem to experience whether it`s talking about sex or sexual scenes being shown on the screen , it is always that or someone being brutally murdered. Although the message can wear thin as far as conveying it, Refn does this well.

“It is Chang who glides through the film with mysterious precision and ambiguity, calm and ruthless in his capacity for aggression, and for enforcing his own kind of natural justice on his own turf. Is he an avenger who punishes people – for seeking revenge? He could be a Zen master whose lifelong vocation is payback against payback, and whose students graduate with the loss of a limb. He could be a kind of black hole, drawing violent people in, nullifying them, cauterising them. Or perhaps he is just a Machiavellian figure with an instinctive gift for attracting and manipulating violence itself.” (Bradshaw 2013)

Although Chang may be seen as ruthless in his technique, his role in the film could be split between the villain and the hero. He avenges those who have been murdered yet at the beginning he toys with the victim, letting the one who murdered get killed by an `innocent` man who in fact has wronged indirectly. Although not the man’s fault, this still results in murder which argues he let the man walk into the slaughterhouse. Although linked to the violence and an avenger , there are parts of the film where one could argue his karaoke singing scenes are angelic and he could be classed as an `Angel of Death` with the other police officers being his disciples admiring him.

Moving onto Julian and his relationship with his mother, compared to previous films having been reviewed, instead of the female being the victim of relationships the male switches to this role in this film. Where his mother although caring treats her son as a tool in her plans to
avenge those who killed her `favourite` son. Insulting him freely and letting her treat him as if a servant , lighting up her cigarettes , killing anyone she wishes and sitting there while she insults him sexually and degrading any part of pride he may have. Although the mother has been listed as a godmother to the mafia , not only he acts this way with her ,but, when visiting the prostitute Mai,it is said his favourite act is to be tied up which suggests to his submissive nature.

Overall this film although subtly artistic was a simple film in the terms of plot , the scenery and set design set the atmosphere well, however, when sex and murder become the two main factors for this film the film gets slightly tiring and can become slightly repetitive. Overall the film was an enjoyment to watch and what was artistic of it was enjoyed thoroughly.

Bibliography :

Fig 1 (2013) [Poster] Accessed 11/12/15

Fig 2 (2013) [Screengrab] Accessed 11/12/15

Fig 3 (2013) [Screengrab] Accessed 11/12/15

(Ebert , R 2013) Only God Forgives

(Bradshaw, P 2013) Only God Forgives Review

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