Danish filmmaker Nicholas Winding Refn came to the attention of most cinema-goers when he directed the ultraviolent getaway thriller Drive, which has since developed a huge cult following. This relatively mainstream effort provided the modern-day auteur the opportunity to delve into art-house territory and reach a wide audience simultaneously. His controversial, yet vibrant visions are taken to the extreme in latest work The Neon Demon, an entrancing horror film set around the LA fashion industry. The plot follows young and aspiring model Jesse (Elle Fanning) who, with no family to support her, moves to the big city to follow her dream. At an amateur photo shoot, she befriends make-up artist Ruby (Jenna Malone) who in turn introduces her to professional models Gigi (Bella Heathcote) and Sarah (Abbey Lee). The old-hands fear that they’ll soon be overlooked by Jesse’s natural beauty and vitality, but begrudgingly welcome her to their obsessive cut-throat world.
After the ultra-violent cult success of Drive, the experimental Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn has once again paired up with Ryan Gosling for revenge thriller ‘Only God Forgives’, but they have very deliberately steered away from the preconceptions that the winning formula would be repeated. Where their previous collaboration dabbled in art house themes, the latest outing tears down conventions, offering a mesmerising cinematic experience that has severely divided opinions, inducing a chorus of boos from critics when it premiered at Cannes in May but receiving a standing ovation from others. Gosling stars as Julian who runs a Muay Thai boxing club used as a front whilst he peddles drugs behind the scenes. When his older brother Billy is brutally murdered in retaliation to a heinous crime he had committed, their controlling mother Crystal (Kristin Scott Thomas) orders Julian to avenge the death of her first born. This leads him to battle with the sword wielding police lieutenant Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm) who is the apparent ‘God’ from the title, worshipped by his force as he employs his own merciless brand of law enforcement.