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With 2011's sleek but gruesomely violent Drive, Ryan Gosling shook up the dreamboat image he forged with the blockbuster romance The Notebook, and he shook it up hard. Some fans of the handsome leading man felt cheated, perhaps because they anticipated something more traditionally romantic from the film with the matinee idol-styled poster. But the kind of romance they got was tinged with blood and tragedy, and in no way what they expected.
Maybe this was what the marketing team for Only God Forgives had in mind when conceptualizing the first poster for Gosling's reunion with Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn, because now no one can possibly mistake this feature for a schmaltzy romance. The image below—courtesy of The Film Stage—shows Gosling covered in so many ghastly bruises and wounds that he is barely recognizable. And while we had some hint of how bad things would get for his character when an on-set snapshot leaked last March, this poster is still shocking.
Penned by Refn, Only God Forgives explores the underground crime world of Thailand. Gosling stars as an American gangster who travels to Bangkok with his brother looking to expand the family business. But when the brothers run afoul of a murder investigation, they end up crossing an intimidating local cop called the Angel of Vengeance. Gosling's gangster and this local legend with finally face off in a no holds barred boxing match that's sure to be brutal.
Only God Forgives will open in Refn's homeland of Denmark on May 23rd, 2013. No release date has yet been announced for the United States.