There is no plot; it's not even that some things happen, then other things happen. NOTHING happens. Is part of the movie a dream sequence? Possibly. Is the entire thing a cruel, nightmare-inducing practical joke played upon viewing audiences? That is the only explanation that makes sense to me.
Ryan Gosling has no lines and does his best not to move his body or face while on-camera. I cannot explain why. It's a movie.
Perhaps the entire operation is a response to the evidence that modern movies are entirely formulaic and predictable. Formulaic movies make it easy for the audience to understand what is happening with only a brief sketch on-screen: a moment of a man's eyes meeting a woman's during a musical cue, and we understand they are destined to overcome odds and love each other. Only God Forgives is the other end of the spectrum: no matter how much we see on-screen, the audience never understands what is happening, has happened, or will happen. The violence was unexpected and sociopathic, except when swapped for just-as-unexpected-and-sociopathic "mercy." The soundtrack provided no context or cues, and seemed completely divorced from the images, even during karaoke scenes.
Robbie Collins deserves a gold star for penning the phrase "spits in the face of coherence" in his review, another highlight of which is the apt summary: "The film’s characters are non-people; the things they say to each other are non-conversations, the events they enact are non-drama. Meanwhile the camera is forever rolling off down corridors, as if someone forgot to apply the handbrake on the rig. "
My viewing companion A. described his experience thusly:
Geoffrey Rush was not in this movie. That's right: the best part of this movie is that it might remind you of Geoffrey Rush, famous and excellent actor, who exists and was not in this movie.The good part about this movie was that the main police guy [Vithaya Pansringarm] looked like an Asian Geoffrey Rush. And man, Geoffrey Rush is great. I really like him.
This post's theme word is exscind, "to cut out or off." I wish I could exscind the memory of this movie from my mind.