Let me be honest. The only reason Nicolas Winding Refn’s (EXTREMELY) violent film, Only God Forgives, was worth sitting through was that you got to stare at Ryan Gosling’s beautiful, chiseled features in most of the scenes. In fact, the same sea blue eyes we adored in The Notebook kept me from getting sick on the guy sitting next to me, because when I say this movie was bloody, I mean characters were literally getting swords through their eyeballs. And when I say swords, I’m talking about sharp, deadly weapons that can really do serious damage to one’s limbs. There weren’t many characters that were left unharmed by swords or guns or pots full of boiling grease… Yes, a man was hit in the face with a boiling grease pot. That happened and I watched it go down.
No matter how many times characters were stabbed in their eyeballs, Ryan’s face made it worth watching. But we have to remember this is not the Ryan from The Notebook or even the Ryan from Crazy, Stupid, Love who made us drool and sob simultaneously (solely because of his abs). In Only God Forgives, Ryan’s character, Julian Thompson, is too busy beating people up to worry about building a house for his ex-girlfriend like Noah Calhoun does for Allie Hamilton in The Notebook. Although we’d prefer every character Ryan Gosling plays to be charming, handsome, and well, just plain perfect, this will most likely never happen. Let’s consider the five key differences between Ryan’s violent (and most likely insane) character in Only God Forgives and his sweet, lovable character in The Notebook. You know, before you go into the movie expecting to fall even more in love with Ryan.
Occupation: In Only God Forgives, Ryan’s character, Julian, is a sketchy drug dealer in Thailand. In The Notebook, Ryan’s character, Noah, is a simple, country lad minding his own business and staying out of trouble. Only God Forgives begins with the murder of Julian’s brother and the rest of the plot revolves around Julian and his mother, Crystal, trying to track down the mysterious police chief who orchestrated the murder. If you’re expecting to wander into this movie with high hopes of seeing Ryan’s character woo a lady in under and hour and then live happily ever after… turn around and GET OUT WHILE YOU STILL CAN.
Stalker Qualities: In Only God Forgives, Julian is a creeper, but not the good kind. In The Notebook, Noah is a honest, loving boyfriend. This Ryan doesn’t climb a ferris wheel to ask his love interest on a date like Noah does for Allie in The Notebook. Most of the film, Ryan’s character, Julian, simply stares without saying much. After his brother’s murder, Julian quietly stalks the police chief (aka the “Angel of Death”) around Bangkok, while Julian’s mother plots the police chief’s assassination. The good news here is that Ryan Gosling didn’t have to waste time memorizing many lines since his character literally says five words. Ryan could dedicate his free time to walking his adorable dog or hanging with girlfriend Eva Mendes.
Family: In Only God Forgives, Julian has a terrifyingly cold mother. In The Notebook, Noah has a kind-hearted, warm father. In both films, Julian and Noah introduce their girlfriends to their parents. In The Notebook, Noah brings Allie to his father’s humble cottage where the three eat pancakes and read Walt Whitman together on the porch. Overall, the event is perfect and something every girl dreams of for her own future meeting with the in-laws. On the other hand, Julian takes his pretend girlfriend, Mai, (who is also a prostitute might I add) to meet his drug dealing mommy at a fancy Bangkok restaurant. So yeah, the date is a total fiasco and Julian’s mother basically threatens Mai’s life. I think we all prefer the The Notebook’s version.
Charm: In Only God Forgives, Julian lacks charm. In The Notebook, Noah is almost overly charming. Julian doesn’t buy his fake prostitute girlfriend an ice cream cone or hang dangerously from a ferris wheel to convince her to go on the date with him. No way, Julian is way too socially awkward and creepy for all that nonsense. Julian’s version of asking a girl out goes something like this:
Julian: I want you to meet my mother
Julian: I want you to pretend we’re a couple. Can you do that?
More awkward silence.
Honestly, I miss the effortlessly dashing Ryan and I want him back in my life. You know, the one who gives dating advice like in Crazy, Stupid, Love or the one who doesn’t completely fail at asking a prostitute on a date. Is that too much to ask for?
Looks: In Only God Forgives, Julian ends up alone with two black eyes. In The Notebook, Noah grows an awesome beard, gets married, and lives a long, happy life with Allie. By the end of Only God Forgives, the police chief has murdered the majority of supporting characters including Julian’s mother, Crystal, and also has beaten up Julian badly. Unfortunately, Ryan’s beautiful face is destroyed and he’s half dead. The prostitute, Mai, is nowhere in sight to clean his wounds or nurse him back to life. Ryan’s character in The Notebook gets a much better deal. Noah wins Allie back and the two stay together forever and ever…
So I’d say things turn out better for Noah than they do for Julian. Hopefully, Ryan Gosling has learned his lesson to stay away from any film roles that don’t include Rachel McAdams or make-out scenes in the pouring rain. This is what you’re good at, Ryan. In the future, PLEASE, only pick characters that resemble Noah Calhoun. Otherwise just say no. I don’t want to watch your perfect face get brutally destroyed ever again. No, thank you.
(Photo: 34th Street)