nick wibert’s review published on Letterboxd:
So simple, and yet so profound. I'd like for the majority of modern filmmakers to look upon the structure of this film and perhaps realize that complicated doesn't always mean better. This movie tells so much with so little, with true acting skill being showcased by Gosling through mostly facial expressions and body language. The viewer can easily know what his character is thinking just by observing his posture and face. Not only is the acting from Gosling and the rest of the cast remarkable, but the camerawork and lighting is unbelievably masterful. This movie has one of the best opening sequences I have ever seen in a movie, taking a commonly used scenario and showing it from a completely different perspective than what we are used to. The opening credits are also just so beautiful, and the accompanying music really makes you realize that you're in for a really good movie. The entire soundtrack of this movie is incredibly unique and awesome, by the way.
As Refn usually does, he implements extremely graphic violence into certain parts of the film which some say take away from the movie. Myself and many others I have heard from don't agree with that, however. I believe the contrary, that Refn has accomplished the somewhat rare feat of successfully incorporating graphic violence into a story so that its use is completely justified and sensible.
This film has a simple yet intriguing plot, wonderful character development, and great writing. This is the embodiment of "show, don't tell", as is Only God Forgives. This is most definitely a gem of modern film that will be cherished and studied by film students for many years to come. One could discuss this movie for hours.