×

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

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.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • AMC TheatresShop signs, Los Angeles, America

    AMC Theatres Lays Off 35 Corporate Staffers

    AMC Entertainment has laid off 35 corporate staffers and will not fill an additional 15 open jobs. The Kansas-based chain made the announcement Thursday as part of a previously announced “profit improvement plan” intended to achieve operating and administrative efficiencies. AMC, which operates more than 10,000 movie screens, had disclosed the plan on Aug. 8 [...]

  • Ann Sarnoff Warner Bros

    Ann Sarnoff Formally Takes Reins of Warner Bros. as CEO

    The Ann Sarnoff era at Warner Bros. has begun. Sarnoff formally took the reins as Warner Bros. chair-CEO on Thursday, two months after she was appointed to the post. Sarnoff told employees in a memo that she has been impressed by the company’s track record during the past year amid a period of upheaval for [...]

  • Take Me Somewhere Nice review

    Ena Sendijarevic on Migration, Identity and the Question of Belonging

    Bosnian filmmaker Ena Sendijarević had an auspicious debut with “Import,” a short film which world premiered in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight in 2016. Drawing on her own family’s personal history, the Amsterdam-based director crafted an idiosyncratic tale about a family of Bosnian refugees trying to make a new home in the Netherlands. With her feature debut, [...]

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Haugesund Prizes ‘Portrait of a Lady on Fire,’ ‘Him,’ ‘Ballon’

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  Celine Sciamma’s intellectually dexterous, bittersweet love tale “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” has claimed another heart, taking home The Norwegian Film-Critics’ Prize at the Haugesund Film Festival’s closing night on Thursday. The festival, which runs over August 17-23, capped its 47th edition with a screening of André Løyning and Kristian Landmark’s [...]

  • Motherless Brooklyn Edward Norton

    Edward Norton Investigates Murder in 'Motherless Brooklyn' Trailer

    The trailer for Edward Norton’s forthcoming crime drama “Motherless Brooklyn” is officially out. Warner Bros.’ drama, based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, follows Lionel Essrog, a young man who works for a small-time mobster in Brooklyn while struggling with an intense case of Tourette Syndrome. “Okay, listen, I got something wrong with me, [...]

  • Summer Box Office

    Box Office Report Card: Studios Get Their Summer Grades

    Studios got badly burned this summer. From May to August, popcorn season in movie speak, the film flops piled up and the big hits were few and far between for nearly every company except Disney. As a whole, summer did little to instill confidence in the state of moviegoing. To be sure, there were successes [...]

  • Port Authority

    Nate Parker's 'American Skin' to Play in Deauville

    Nate Parker’s politically charged drama “American Skin” is set to play at the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival following its world premiere at Venice. “American Skin,” which tells the story of a Gulf War veteran whose son is killed by a police officer, marks Parker’s first feature film since the news resurfaced [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content