Cannes 2013: How the Festival’s Most Anticipated Films Fared With the Critics — And When You Can See Them

The 66th annual Cannes Film Festival is officially behind us. Drama seemed to leap off the screen on the French Riviera with unseasonable rainy weather, a string of robberies, and plenty of emotional moments. The reviews are in, deals have been inked, and the festival’s most prestigious awards have been granted. We took a look at how the most anticipated titles fared with critics and filled you in on the latest details so you can be there when Cannes’ greatest arrive in a theater near you.


Only God Forgives

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn
Starring: Ryan Gosling, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vithaya Pansringarm

Synopsis: Julian (Gosling) runs a Bangkok boxing club, which is a front for the family drug smuggling business. When his brother is murdered, the clan’s criminal matriarch (Thomas) demands Julian seek revenge for the slaying. At the same time, Julian is forced to contend with a retired cop who threatens to shut his operation down.

What the critics said: Early reviews were mixed and fiercely divided. Cannes audiences booed the brutal thriller, but the critical crowd has misjudged some of the finest films in cinema before — like Antonioni’s L’avventura. Hollywood Elsewhere’s Jeff Wells sided with audiences and had a few caustic words to add: “It’s a shit macho fantasy — hyperviolent, ethically repulsive, sad, nonsensical, deathly dull, snail-paced, idiotic, possibly woman-hating, visually suffocating, pretentious.”

Only God Forgive‘s dreamlike visual style was widely lauded, but several noted how empty the characters and plot felt. “All the aesthetic pleasures in the world mean little, however, when put in service of such one-dimensional characters and shallow moral codes,” Slant Magazine’s Jordan Cronk wrote.

The moody minimalism worked for some, however. The Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw left us anxious to see more: “It is ultraviolent, creepy and scary, an enriched-uranium cake of pulp, with a neon sheen. The first scenes made me think that Wong Kar-wai had made a new film called In the Mood for Fear or In the Mood for Hate.”

Awards: The film was nominated for the Palme d’Or.

When you can see it: The film is slated for a July 19 release in the US and will open in the UK on August 2.