In ONLY GOD FORGIVES, Nicholas Winding Refn finally grows so disinterested in dialogue (and words in general) that he steals the remote and lowers the volume for the viewer, instead turning up his tunes to drown out whatever’s being said. Because.. who cares what’s being said? Talk is cheap and full of self serving lies. Everything that needs to be said can be said with a fist or in lieu of that, dead, leering eyes. It’s a technique that grows wearisome, but through repetition eventually builds an honest and brutal power. Gosling here as Julian makes his DRIVE character look positively chatty by comparison, but even he is out quieted by Thai police enforcer, Chang, whose cruel judgements are written with a razor sharp blade. It’s because so much of the character is hidden below the icy surface, that when Chang sings for a gathering of stony faced officers, the sudden warmth of his voice becomes as intimate as a prayer. Julian has only one scene where we see any real expression of his constipated emotion, and in just one screamed command “Take it off!,” we understand him completely and actually sympathize with a character who up until that point wes inscrutable.
So silence truly is golden. However, at the rate Refn is losing words, I expect the next screenplay to just say, “Ryan Gosling looks on” for every scene.