So you have a brilliant writer/director, Nicolas Winding Refn (the would be heir to genius throne creator of Drive, Bronson, Valhalla Rising), a great actor, Ryan Gosling, a killer story about gang violence, and dirty cop goings on in Thailand. I mean what could go wrong?
How about everything. Yup, everything. Oh, Booniacs, buckle up kiddies we are going in a deep dark rant here... I mean, you might wanna hydrate. Seat ya damn selves.
Plot: White kids (Gosling being one of em), two brothers, run a drug business in Thailand for their Mom (and the mob family). A cop who used to be a thai fighter, now runs the whole scene in Thailand. Gosling aka Julian, his brother is all kinds of twisted and decides, seemingly for no reason, to kill and rape a young Thai prostitute. The cop then lets the father of the girl brutally kill Julian's brother. Why? Who knows. He's twisted I guess. Anyway, Mommy shows up from america and wants justice... thereby leading to an unavoidable crossing of paths (showdown) between her forces and that of the Thai cop.
Ok. Now, before I start I wanna make a few... Little, tiny, things clear. This is a near awe inspiring film. If you appreciate the art of film making, yet again, jaw dropping. The camera work, lighting, acting, colors, tone, all of it, brilliant. You may have one of the more intriguing Villain, would be hero, arcs ever created. Especially considering the 90 minute run time.
So, I understand that there are gunna be art house addicts, and all kinds of other film freaks out there talking about how "Daring" and "original" and Blah blah, this film is. And despite the people that have walked out of this film during film festivals, those that remained, surely left saying "My those people are not true film fans. They have lost their way". Well, if you have been following me since I was chaotically birthed into the blog-a-sphere, then you know a few things about me.
1. I like a Good showdown.
2. I love original and daring film, as long as it pays off in the end.
3. An ending. It doesnt matter how good the film is. The ending is the most important part. Period. No excuses.
And 4. I am dangerously addicted to hot sauce, and spicy foods.
Ok. 4 is not really important to this review... Mmmmm hot sauce.... Ok... 1+2. This movie actually stole both of those things from me. I was in folks. From the first slow moving camera shot, to the weird twisted nature of the narrative, Charles B. Boonsweet was IN! And as it began to move towards the end, in my mind I was begging it... Begging this supposed genius director to just please... remember drive... remember the joy a solid ending brings an audience... Remember me, Boonsweet. But NO!
Nooooo he rips it all away.
|Oh. God. So I just pretty much do this face? For 90 min? Ok. I can do that.|
When the showdown between Julian and evil cop comes (and believe me it is set up well - the "Want to fight" line is gold), I was on the edge of my seat and den- its a one way whomping, and for no apparent reason. Then, well, there appears to be a second showdown on the way... but no, we get denied that in favor of slow motion, nonsense, and a Karaoke.
The supporting characters are actually very interesting. The Thai girl that Julian actually cares about. His twisted mother, heck the Thai Cop is fun as hell. But here's my Point: WHY PUT ALL THAT EFFORT INTO BUILDING A CLIMAX IF YOU DON'T WANT ONE?! Oh right, its because this is an art house director. And after Drive, he was bound and determined to crap all over his audience to show them just how brilliant he is.
This actually reminded me of how I felt after another little indie WTF flick - Holy Motors which I was not very kind too. Because Damn I loved it, and I love ONLY GOD FORGIVES, and they both just decided to give up on ending the story in any kind of way that was beautiful, or wonderful, or fantastic... no they opted to be all I made a movie, and I'm smarter than you - worship my genius. You don't understand the ending because its way deeper than the mainstream.
After this film I am serious doubting I will ever watch another film directed by this guy. Well maybe directed but certainly not written by. This and Valhalla Rising have proved that this guy is something close to amazing, but so caught up in his own art that he forgets others be watching. I know, the old argument - Art is whatever the Artist creates. No one can Judge art. Well, I beg to differ. Opinions, are always valid. And this website is just mine.
|No seriously... I think it will look better on you.|
Like I said, many folks will support this film, but to me it falls sooooooo far from DRIVE I can't imagine anything worthwhile coming from this source for a bit.
Ahhhhh I'm just so damn frustrated. This film is amazing, and then after the fight, just straight down... Whooooooop. If the last 20 minutes of this film had paid off, man, we may have been calling this a straight master piece.
This Director Mister Winding Refn has had the benefit of working with some truly amazing actors, and actresses. Really putting life in his films, with the addition of his awesome work on camera, its just a shame he didn't step up and make a damn stand up cheer (or at least fist pump) ending. But hey, some people are just determined that part of art is never being fully accepted. Taking rejection as a sign of triumph. Well... congratulations sir... congrats.
A couple of you might be wondering why this isn't a CRAP! review. Well, as you can see, I loved much about the film, except the ending. The film is just way to well made, and stylized, to be anything close to CRAP! worthy. In this case... I am a reviewer scorned... deeply scared, and ranting, because he loved....
Art does not exempt plot. Or climax. Or structure.
Movie scale 2 out 5 stars
WTF/ART movie scale 2.5 out 5 stars
I am so bummed right now. Prob take me a bit to get the stain of this one out of my head.