Overview: During the extraneous days of filming Only God Forgives, Liv Cofixen divulges the personal highs and lows of joining her husband on his most controversial film. 2015; Radius-TWC; PG-13; 59 minutes.
My Life in Relation to Nicholas Winding Refn Movies: To give some background on my relationship with the films of Nicholas Winding Refn, I think his stylistic decisions make him one of the most fascinating directors today. I’m not someone who partakes in ritualistic adoration. I see Refn as a mesmerizing artistic creator, one who builds and destroys with the same level of empathy. Drive was my entry point and still remains my favorite of his filmography. Only God Forgives was more difficult to get behind but with repeat viewings puts it on the same level of quality for me. I even did the unthinkable and put Only God Forgives in my top 10 films of 2013. I assumed it was a relatively simple production given the time span between Drive and Only God Forgives. But no film shoot is easy. Movies grow and evolve as production continues.
Her Life Directed By Nicholas Winding Refn: The major focus of the doc is seen through the eyes of Refn’s wife, Liv Cofixen. She doesn’t capture the tragic majesty of something along the lines Hearts of Darkness, but she’s still capable of capturing the emotional rollercoaster her family went through. Whenever Refn isn’t entirely confident in his work, he’s doubtful of himself. Corfixen follows moments when Refn is drowning in a sea of despair.
It’s not an entirely dour experience, as no professional film shoot should be. She’s able to capture the small moments between cast and crew. Don’t worry, everyone! The platonic romance between Ryan Gosling and Refn is still glorious and adorable. The love between the couple is powerful and their marital struggles are painful to watch. She mentions not wanting to be apart from her husband for so long because the distance was heartbreaking. But through good and bad, they’re a team.
I’m impressed at how personal this doc feels at only 59 minutes, and that’s where the issues begin to settle in. It’s far too short. The material here is worth the price of purchase. There’s a feeling more could have been said. And for anybody hoping for an extended Making Of feature will also walk away disappointed. That last one is no fault of the film itself, since the title is pretty clear on what it’s about.
Fresh off his success from Drive, which transcended the confines of Refn’s niche storytelling style to a mass audience, there’s an uneasiness about the direction he wants to take Only God Forgives. At a point the director proclaims even three years after working on the project, he’s unsure of what it may become. Here’s the thing: We know how the film turns out. Whether or not you like it is up to you by this point. People who reacted negatively to Only God Forgives should give this a look for the trials and tribulations going on behind the scenes. People who champion the film have even more to consume from this. In unison, we should all just take a moment to thank Liv Corfixen for her opening the Refn family personal life to the world.