What to Read Next

Ryan Gosling Booed as Cannes Pans 'Only God Forgives'

Kara Warner
Movie Talk
May 22, 2013

“Only God Forgives” but Cannes audiences don’t.

Despite the fact that Ryan Gosling and director Nicholas Winding Refn’s first film together “Drive” received rave reviews and had everyone excited for their second collaboration, “Only God Forgives,” that early good buzz has been replaced with boos.

“Drive” earned Refn the Best Director award from the Cannes Film Fest’s jury in 2011, but it doesn’t appear that his equally violent follow-up will follow suit. According to those present at the film’s screenings on Wednesday, audience reactions to “Only God Forgives” were less than enthusiastic.

The Hollywood Reporter’s Scott Feinberg reported a “ton of walkouts a number of boos” while New York Magazine’s Jada Yuan Tweeted that she and other members of the press were debating whether they heard a lot of boos or just “a smattering.” That and according to Hollywood.com’s Matt Patches, apparently Ryan Gosling only has 17 lines of dialogue.

[Related: 5 Reasons Cannes Is Going Way Wrong]

And now that the critics present at the screening have had time to write up their thoughts and post their reviews online, it appears that the majority opinion is less than flattering.

“Movies really don’t get much worse than Nicholas Winding Refn‘s ‘Only God Forgives’,” wrote Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeffrey Wells. “It’s a sh-- macho fantasy — hyperviolent, ethically repulsive, sad, nonsensical, deathly dull, snail-paced, idiotic, possibly woman-hating, visually suffocating, pretentious. I realize I sound like Rex Reed on one of his rants, but trust me, please — this is a defecation by an over-praised, over-indulged director who thinks anything he craps out is worthy of your time. I felt violated, s*** upon, sedated, narcotized, appalled and bored stiff.”

Awards Daily critic Sasha Stone wasn’t as appalled by the film as Wells, but also made note of the gratuitous violence.

[Related: The 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival - Premieres]

“Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to Drive takes him farther away from traditional narrative and deeper into abstract expressionism. His painter’s eye makes Only God Forgives something beautiful to behold, awash in deep reds and geometric, carefully thought out shot compositions. But what it amounts to, in the end, is the careful work of a serial killer — not literally out there killing women but indulging in one bloody killing after another, practically licking the knife afterwards.”

Still not everyone disliked Refn’s effort, which revolves around a small-time crook in Thailand who, with strong encouragement/insistence from his mother, sets out to avenge his brother’s murder. Guardian critic Peter Bradshaw gave the film a five-star review, touting its great subtlety and aesthetic brilliance.

“‘Only God Forgives’ will, understandably, have people running for the exits, and running for the hills. It is very violent, but Winding Refn's bizarre infernal creation, an entire created world of fear, really is gripping. Every scene, every frame, is executed with pure formal brilliance. I'm afraid it's going to be even nastier the next time I watch it.”

[Related: Watch the "Only God Forgives" Red Band Trailer for Mature Audiences]