Ryan Gosling’s ‘Only God Forgives’ Booed at Cannes Screening

Ryan Gosling Only God Forgives

Nicolas Winding Refn's stylish thriller gets chilly reception at press screening

When Danish auteur Nicolas Winding Refn brought his Ryan Gosling-starring thriller “Drive” to the Cannes competition two years ago, he earned largely rave reviews and a directing prize. It remains to be seen what this year’s Steven Spielberg-led jury makes of the latest Refn-Gosling joint, “Only God Forgives,” but the critical reception is in, and so far it ain’t pretty. A nasty, hyperviolent thriller set around Bangkok’s seedy brothels and boxing rings, the film was booed at its press screening earlier this morning, countered (as boos often are) by defiant shouts of “Bravo!” and scattered applause, indicating pockets of support.

Vapid, nihilistic exercises in style are often ripe for jeers in a competition as prestigious as this one, and Refn’s latest in particular owes a strong stylistic debt to his filmmaking mentor Gaspar Noe (he’s thanked in the end credits), himself something of a Cannes-boo specialist after shocking festival-goers with the likes of “Irreversible” and “Enter the Void.” It’s worth noting that Cannes audiences have booed their fair share of masterpieces as well, most famously Antonioni’s “L’avventura,” and that a film’s fest reception isn’t necessarily an indicator of how it will be greeted down the road.

REVIEW: ‘Only God Forgives’

Still, those of us who sat through Refn’s visually arresting but distressingly empty thriller (aptly described by my colleague Peter Debruge as “an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance”) had our worst suspicions confirmed, based on early rumors that “Only God Forgives” had been slotted in competition at the producers’ insistence. Festival programmers had originally thought to put it in Midnight Screenings or the Directors’ Fortnight sidebar, where it would no doubt have been greeted with less hostility.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 5

Leave a Reply


Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. Smite says:

    Uh, I don’t know how you figure Noe is Refn’s “mentor” — Refn made his first feature years before Noe did.

  2. Truth says:

    Cannes audiences don’t like “all style, no substance” – well, that should mean Sofia Coppola is booed all the way out of the country.

    Wait, that doesn’t happen because of her last name . . . too bad for Refn – he deserves better.

  3. voiceswriter says:

    Reblogged this on Voiceswriter and commented:
    Poor Ryan can’t catch a break. First they shun him at major award ceremonies then they boo his film at Cannes. :-(

  4. Daniel says:

    So if I insist with the Cannes select committee they’ll upgrade my film to competition? Good to know. I’ll do that next year.

    • Justin Chang says:

      Producers and sales agents can have a strong influence on the selection committee, yes. Some of course have more cachet than others — and many, if not selected for competition, will opt to bypass Cannes altogether, which can lead to a hasty, last-minute competition invitation.

More Film News from Variety