Two years ago director Nicolas Winding Refn brought his first American film to the Cannes Film Festival, and absolutely blew everybody away. The film, Drive, was nominated for the Palme d'Or and won the Best Director prize at the festival, and went on to be one of the biggest critical hits of the year. Now the filmmaker is getting set to duplicate that approach with his latest movie, the dark drama Only God Forgives.
While the film is already set to hit theaters on July 19th, it will be holding its premiere at this year's Cannes, and to get you ready The Playlist has posted not only a whole bunch of new photos, but a director's statement from Winding Refn where he explains what he was trying to do/express with Only God Forgives. Read the statement below and then scope out a few of the new stills.
The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God. That is, of course, a very vast obstacle but when I was writing the film, I was going through some very existential times in my life - we were expecting our second child and it was a difficult pregnancy - and the idea of having a character who wants to fight God without knowing why very much appealed to me.
With that as the concept, I elaborated by adding a character who believes he is God (Chang), obviously the antagonist, with the protagonist being a gangster who is looking for religion to believe in (Julian). This itself is, of course, very existential because faith is based on the need for a higher answer but most of the time, we don’t know what the question is. When the answer comes, then, we must backtrack our lives in order to find the question. In this way, the film is conceived as an answer, with the question revealed at the end.
With hindsight, I am able to see the similarities between Chang and One Eye in Valhalla Rising, and Driver in Drive - all are rooted in fairytale mythology and have difficulties living in the everyday world. I can see that technically, there is a resemblance in their stoic behavior, silence, and fetishistic portraits even though they live in different times and are portrayed by different actors. In Valhalla Rising, One Eye is enigmatic - we don’t know his past but he is defined by his name. In Drive, Driver is defined by his function. And in Only God Forgives, Chang is first of all defined by his enigmatic behaviour, to such an extent that he becomes a disembodied character, an ‘it’, defined not by his name but solely by his image.
In a way, Only God Forgives is like an accumulation of all the films I’ve made so far. I think I was heading toward a creative collision, full speed ahead, in order to change everything around me and to see what would come after. I have always said that I set out to make films about women but I end up making films about violent men. Now that everything is colliding, it may end up turning things upside-down for me. This collision is exciting because everything around me becomes so uncertain and we must not forget that the second enemy of creativity, after having ‘good taste’, is being safe.
For more images from the movie, head over to The Playlist.
Only God Forgives, based on an original screenplay by Winding Refn, stars Ryan Gosling as Julian, a gangster and drug smuggler living in Bangkok who goes on the hunt for vengeance against his brother's killer. Kristin Scott Thomas co-stars as Julian's mother.