Space & Environment: Secret Liars

Only God Forgives (2013)
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.

‘The Mise-en-Scene’ Film Review

Figure 1

Only God Forgives is a film described by many as Marmite, you either hate it or love it. Based in Bangkok, Julian (Ryan Gosling) gets involved in some killings after his psychotic brother; Billy is murdered for murdering a 16-year-old girl. His mother wants revenge for the person who did it, only to find a policeman gets involved who also wants revenge. Ryan Goslings character Julian; you’d expect him to be the hero type figure with his mannerisms, ends up being a complete mummy’s boy when his fowl mouth, bitch of a mum ‘Crystal’ turns up. ‘Crystal, with the exception of her first and final scenes, is an apparition that visits Julian to remind him of all the perverted facets of their bizarre relationship, by turns seducing him, humiliating him and, finally, ready to destroy him.’ (Wise, 2013) Like Damon Wise states, all she wants to do is get revenge on her own son for being a disappointment to their family, and for him not getting the murderer who killed his brother, its even more reason. Focusing a lot of the camera angles in a one point perspective having only a couple of the characters in the shot at one time, this film can look very flat with everything being symmetrical.

Figure 2

This film is built around suspense and a lot of not much happening. For the first time this 90min film can feel like hours as Nicolas Winding Refn takes his time getting to the point; but its really the second time round you appreciate the vibrant colours and overall artistic movement during the film and it’ll fly by. The use of fluorescent lighting that’s always being shone onto the characters and set really makes the world there in feel not real; Peter Bradshaw says: ‘Faces appear to glow in the artificial light, partly illuminated from within by their own madness.’ (Bradshaw, 2013) Every time a murdering has happened or someone’s about to die the fluorescent light would disappear and be replaced with normal lighting, obviously showing the comparison to real life and the world they seem to be in.

Figure 3

The use of colour is interesting also, sticking with the complete opposites glowing reds meaning hot, anger, danger, lust and blues that show the cold, cooling side. ‘Even the grimmest locations are given a stylish boost by a glow of red or a flash of blue. Yet the lighting, production design and score are by far the film’s most artful elements.’(Calhoun, 2013) It explains a lot about the characters and the film in general and a lot of the time these colours are shown together with the odd splash of green maybe to suggest envy or money from Julian being a drug dealer. Nicolas Winding Refn also uses these colours and use of artificial light throughout the film ‘Drive’ (2011), which again has very little speech and a lot of waiting around, hanging on the edge of suspense.

Bibliography:
Text: Bradshaw, Peter. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/film/2013/dec/11/10-best-films-2013-only-godforgives (Accessed online on 11th December 2013) Calhoun, Dave. Available at: http://www.timeout.com/london/film/only-godforgives (Accessed online on 11th December 2013) Wise, Damon. Available at: http://www.empireonline.com/reviews/reviewcomplete.asp?FID=137633 (Accessed online on 11th December 2013) Images: Fig 1. Only God Forgives (2013) From: Only God Forgives. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn [Film Poster] Thai. http://www.imdb.com/media/rm707372032/tt1602613?ref_=tt_ov_i Fig 2. Only God Forgives (2013) From: Only God Forgives. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn [Film Still] Thai. http://m.wsj.net/video/20130718/071813onlygodclip/071813onlygodclip_512 x288.jpg Fig 3. Only God Forgives (2013) From: Only God Forgives. Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn [Film Still] Thai. http://dcfilmgirl.com/wpcontent/uploads/2013/07/kristin-scott-thomas-only-god-forgives.jpg

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