I remember it being the fall of 2009 when I first saw the trailer for Bronson. I must have watched it at least 500 times and showed it to everyone I could. No one cared. But when I dragged my friends to see it with me the second it came out, they too fell in love with the blood-drenched character study that carried the muscularity and theatricality of something entirely its own, something that felt entirely new. There was a fresh sense of violence, not for the hell of it, but to illustrate something pounding inside its titular character that bubbled over onto the screen. Not to mention, one of the best performances of the last decade from the ever-chameleon Tom Hardy. And with Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2011 follow-up Drive, the world finally caught on to the incredible Danish director’s eye for making visceral, gut-pounding dramas that are as stylish and cinematic as they are thematically gritty and raw. But it was his collaboration with Ryan Gosling that truly brought Drive to life, to which Refn said, "I love him. And I don’t love him in the Hollywood way where everyone loves everybody, I mean I really love him. My wife loves him… He loves my wife… I love his mother… So we’re very similar in many aspects of our sensibilities, we have different upbringings but we gravitate towards the same things. And of course he was the one who gave me the opportunity to make a film in Hollywood the way I would like to make one, which probably would never have happened otherwise."
And this weekend, we got a glimpse at their latest work together, Only God Forgives, the highly-anticipated Thai-boxing thriller, set to premiere at Cannes in May. Although great to get a slight look at the picture, it’s difficult to ascertain too much from the trailer—save Refn’s usual bent towards lush, vibrant colors and violence filled with eloquent silences and hair-raising musical moments. In terms of Gosling’s character Julien, we haven’t been given too much insight, but last year, the director was speaking to the silent nature of Drive’s hero and said, "It goes back to [Valhalla Rising‘s] One Eye, the enigma, and it’s a kind of classic mythological character that is part of our tradition of storytelling. You know, the silent hero that has a past we don’t know and we read things into him that mirror our own needs. It’s a very classical figure that’s been around in literature for thousands of years. It’s a character that I’m very fond of and it actually going to be in my next movie Only God Forgives." On working with Gosling, he also went on to say, "Making a movie is like Russian roulette, but when a star wants something they will certainly get what they want. That’s the scenario that happened with me and I was just lucky that it happened in my favour. But in terms of his status in Hollywood, it was actually quite the contrary: it was a blessing working with him and we actually avoided a lot of drama just from him being there. Ryan is a great actor, but he’s also very respectful for the medium. But his opinion was that good films are made by good directors and bad films are made by bad directors. Film is a directors’ medium, it will always be a directors’ medium. He was very respectful to me as the director."
Well, one can only hope we’ll receive a bigger tasting of the film soon but in the meantime check out the teaser and enjoy some opening credits from Refn’s dark oeuvre.