Every Ridiculous Part of ‘Only God Forgives’

Literally, what was happening here?

by Kali Tuttle
Only God Forgives

Only God Forgives reminds me of a teenager who gets really into poetry and thinks they’re really deep but in reality are the most annoying person to be around. Nicolas Winding Refn was really going for some sort of arthouse thriller, but it turned into a ridiculous collage of blood and Ryan Gosling stares.

About half an hour through the film, I started keeping a list of everything that made me laugh with how silly it was. As I expected, that list ended up getting pretty lengthy. I would wager it has more words than the dialogue in this film.

Please enjoy the following list of unbelievable things that happen in Only God Forgives.

What is Ryan Gosling Doing?

  • There’s a part where Ryan Gosling’s character, Julian, hires a prostitute. Instead of acting like the average person who is up to some freaky stuff, he stares at the prostitute with the most frog-like eyes I have ever seen. It’s always hot when a guy goes cross-eyed staring at his love.
  • Another part shows Julian staring at the prostitute, this time while she dances in a club. In the room are two other jolly clubgoers also enjoying the dance. Julian decides to get up and savagely beat the other clubgoers, for reasons unknown. Come on, man, they’re just trying to chill out, too!
  • Kristin Scott Thomas plays Julian’s mother, Crystal. I’m very glad it was established that she was Julian’s mother, otherwise, I may have thought they were previous lovers. Both the dialogue and body language between the two was uncomfortable. I half-expected the two to kiss in every scene.
  • For most of Only God ForgivesJulian is quiet and reserved. However, there’s a part after he has dinner with his mother and his favorite prostitute where he becomes agitated for no apparent reason and yells at his prostitute friend. It would be terrifying if he didn’t look and sound like a child throwing a tantrum.


  • Speaking of Crystal, she was the only one in Only God Forgives who had any sort of personality outside of quiet and brooding. Sure, her personality was a creepy, doting mother who wanted to defend her son despite his heinous actions, but it was a personality nonetheless.
  • Crystal also has a knack for appearing in the most random places. You think you’re safe from her but then she shows up to yell at her son and request violence.
  • Crystal’s best scene is the family dinner she has with Julian and his prostitute friend. First of all, the dinner is in a restaurant with nobody else in it, which is weird enough but then she spends the dinner being unnecessarily hostile. She also orders for everyone, which is very girlboss of her.

Chang the Lounge Singer?

  • Our main antagonist of Only God Forgives is the head of police, Chang. From the very first moment we meet this character, we know he isn’t like other cops.
  • First of all, Chang apparently sings. The brutal violence of the film is paired with random shots of him singing to his police officer buddies in a club of some sort. I was not expecting the villain to be a lounge singer.
  • He also doesn’t wear typical police clothes. His shirt of choice is a black golf shirt with an absurdly large white collar. He looks more like a dad getting ready to mow his lawn than a cold-blooded killer.

Random Details

  • There’s a scene where Chang approaches a man and his son. The man is apparently involved in some kind of criminal underworld and he’s screwed up. The child is disabled and sits in a wheelchair. Chang and the child make meaningful eye contact and then Chang slices up his father. What was that look of understanding that passed between the two? Is the child part of a conspiracy against his father?
  • Every so often, an organ will break into the score with jarring chords. It sounds like a mix of the music from Stranger Things and Tron: Legacy. It works well for the night scenes in the neon city, but then it gets played during other, less apt points. Did we really need chill electronica vibes for a bloody fight?
  • What was with the random group of bodybuilders? Were they relevant to the plot? Still not sure.

Follow MovieBabble on Twitter @MovieBabble_ and Kali Tuttle @tuttle_kali2.

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