Monday 12 August 2013


Set in Bangkok, involving drug gangs, prostitution and bent cops, this controversially received film at Cannes was apparently greeted with equally vociferous cheers and boos.
I think I'd more likely be falling into the former of these two camps, though I can see why it's been derided in some quarters.

Disturbingly violent in sudden flashes among long stretches of silence or very spare dialogue. Ryan Gosling in his 'buttoned-up-with-few-words' element here, as you can imagine. Kristin Scott Thomas as she's never been seen before - all icy determination in her single-minded pursuit of the killer of her son (Gosling's older brother). Not in the least interested in the circumstances of her son's death, whether or not there were any mitigations, she's venom-tongued in her spite for Gosling in not doing enough (so she thinks) in tracking down the killer and gets scarily animated in humiliatingly egging him on to exact revenge.

I don't think anyone could disagree that, visually, it's a beautiful-looking film, mainly shot at night, with red being the predominant colour.  It's a relatively simple story which ekes out the long, slow sequences and gives them even further tension the situation already had. Throughout the experience my nerves were on edge as I didn't know when the sudden ultra-violent acts would come. (There is one particularly nasty execution, the only really prolonged violent scene, in which someone is painfully despatched by the use of 'food utensils'.)

I suppose those critical of the film see it as all show and little substance. (After the final credits there was one cry of "Rubbish!" from a member of the audience when I went - though it must be said that he'd thought it worthwhile staying until all the credits had played out.) However, I do think it's a film of some depth. Certainly not for the squeamish, but I would recommend it as a fine cinematic experience, for which reason I offer a score of.............7.


  1. The very fact that it can cause such diverse reactions makes it very interesting. I happen to love KST and I have loved everything Ryan Gosling has done. He's about the only actor for which I see a film solely because he is in it!
    Is it a sort of sequel to "Drive" or did I misunderstand that? Drive was quite brilliant.

  2. Although, Craig, Gosling does play a very similar character to the one in 'Drive' (yes, a good film also) the mood of this is totally different. As you're not only a fan of his but also of KST, then this is a 'must' for you - though if you're anything like me you may want to avert your eyes from the screen now and then. I'd expect you to like this one.

  3. I'll be MOST interested to read your review of this on your blog, J.G., so do go, PLEASE!

  4. I hope this one comes our way. I am becoming a Gosling fan. I liked "Drive" though would have liked it more in a theater instead of a monitor

  5. If you liked 'Drive', H.K., you'll certainly LOVE this one. The character Gosling plays is very similar though the storylines could hardly be more different, even though there's a lot of killing in both.

    As you may know a film doesn't qualify for entry in my own film register as having been 'seen', unless it was viewed in a theatre, the way it was (nearly always) intended. On a TV or computer screen it's always a more diluted experience. Even though it's true that home TV screens are getting bigger and bigger I'd still miss the unspoken relationship between oneself and other members of the audience, there to have a simultaneous experience with one.