Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s 1943 novella The Little Prince has long been acclaimed as a masterpiece of children’s literature, and rightfully so. In spite of the book’s ostensible target audience, Saint-Exupéry tackles adult themes such as mortality and fidelity with the same gusto with which he handles more childish whimsy. The remarkable cohesiveness of the two approaches has largely contributed to the novella’s staying power and broad appeal.
Style oozes from every frame of Only God Forgives, tinged in red, like the blood that so frequently sprays across the screen and lands in artfully designed splatters. Writer-director Nicolas Winding Refn and star Ryan Gosling, reuniting after the cult success of 2011’s Drive, have collaborated on a truly baffling, bizarre, and gory crime drama that’s wall-to-wall striking, pretty images. Unlike Drive, however, Only God Forgives is hollow underneath all the model-like posturing and the flashes of excessive, gratuitous violence.