Only God Forgives 2013

Critics score:
40 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: The collision of violent spasms and art-film ennui leave the viewer's brain bloody but unfilled. Read more

David Edelstein, New York Magazine/Vulture: I thought it was just about the worst ... thing I've ever seen. In fact, I was depressed it wasn't laughed off the screen. Read more

Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press: Once you get past its slick veneer, you may find yourself looking at your watch, even though it clocks in at a concise 89 minutes. Read more

Stephen Holden, New York Times: What is on Mr. Refn's mind? Here is what he says in a director's note: "The original concept for the film was to make a movie about a man who wants to fight God." All right. Whatever. Read more

Rex Reed, New York Observer: Part schlockfest, part campy fairy tale, this is a movie that begs you to bring your own barf bag. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Nicolas Winding Refn's excruciatingly-though definitively-pretentious exercise in ritual violence gives chiaroscuro a bad name. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: God may forgive you for seeing this needlessly brutal film. But you won't forgive yourself. Read more

Peter Debruge, Variety: The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does in Only God Forgives, an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance from Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn. Read more

A.A. Dowd, AV Club: The results are sometimes striking, in pure visual terms, but rarely engaging; even as a brutish saga of underworld retribution, the film fails to get the heart pounding. Read more

Kerry Lengel, Arizona Republic: It's not that overwrought violence and human depravity are unfit grist for art, but without a compelling plot and a modicum of character development, all this film has to offer is a repugnant prurience and heavy-handed atmospherics. Read more

Ty Burr, Boston Globe: "Only God Forgives" is the kind of remarkable disaster only a very talented director can make after he finds success and is then allowed to do whatever he wants. Read more

J. R. Jones, Chicago Reader: As always, Refn's style is captivating, but the fascination with extreme gore never amounts to more than a fetish, and there's none of the deft characterization that made his revered Pusher trilogy and British biopic Bronson so engaging. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: This is the worst, least, dumbest picture made by people of talent this year ... Read more

Adam Graham, Detroit News: Refn seems to have some issues he needs to work out, and "Only God Forgives" does as well. If it doesn't quite get all the way there, at least it's an interesting mess. Read more

Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly: It's a solemnly preposterous piece of designer revenge pulp, with actors who stand around bathed in red and blue light like David Lynch mannequins in between scenes of torture and murder. Read more

Jordan Hoffman, There's an old expression in musical theater - you don't leave humming the lights. Read more

Wesley Morris, Grantland: Directors are always digging around in their psyches for material - David Lynch, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Lars von Trier ... Refn's anxiety seems out to top theirs. But there's no joy or folly or transcendence. It's a one-dimensional video game of death. Read more

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: A menacingly atmospheric mood piece that will not disappoint devotees of the Nicolas Winding Refn church of fetishistic hyper-violence. Read more

Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times: God only knows what Nicolas Winding Refn had in mind when he made "Only God Forgives." Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: Mocking the improbable characters and bizarre juxtapositions is too literal and superficial a reading of this dreamy, entrancing movie. Read more

David Thomson, The New Republic: This is a ludicrous, showy film, and we are left to reconcile those two antagonistic qualities, or get out. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: Is Refn really tendering his grandly named film as a religious parable? If so, I'll pass. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: I never had a doubt that director Nicolas Winding Refn was in absolute control. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: God might forgive, but the audience won't. Read more

Sara Stewart, New York Post: What makes it high art? The fact that it happens really slowly, I think, or that it's interspersed with patience-testing camera pans of wallpaper. Read more

Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: Where Drive shrewdly mystifies, Only God Forgives stupefies. You can see its gears grinding. But I'll always hang on for a rare talent like Refn. Even when he stumbles, he leaves you eager to see what he's up to next. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: Refn's nerve is admirable, even if his film often borders on unwatchable. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Ryan Gosling and his "Drive" director, Nicolas Winding Refn, sail into the heart of darkness and emerge with a trinket of crackpot porno kitsch. Read more

Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times: This is one of the most shocking and one of the best movies of the year. Read more

Jon Frosch, The Atlantic: The film succeeds to some extent as a pure stylistic exercise, with a few fine Lynchian moments blurring reality with erotic and violent fantasies. Read more

Peter Howell, Toronto Star: It's possibly the least glamorous and also least interesting role Gosling has ever had. It's not likely to expand his fan base much, or Refn's for that matter. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: Style over substance doesn't really tell the half of it: you can bathe a corpse in groovy light and dress it in an expensive suit, but in the end that rotting smell just won't go away. Read more

Keith Uhlich, Time Out: Refn clearly thinks he's saying something profound with this laboriously overproduced dross, and I'm content to let him go on thinking. Read more

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice: It's a genre picture with an art-housey structure, an instance of Refn and the normally phenomenal Gosling trying too hard to make an ultra-violent movie that's also, you know, tasteful. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: The most objectionable thing about Only God Forgives isn't that it's shocking or immoral, but that it's so finally, fatally dull. Read more

Alonso Duralde, TheWrap: The more arts-minded drag queens will be doing [Kristin Scott Thomas] this Halloween. Read more