Nicolas Winding Refn's new film "Only God Forgives" arrives in theaters and video-on-demand services on July 19, giving all audiences a chance to see what so riled up the cognoscenti at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival back in May.
The violent film -- which star Ryan Gosling previously described as a "nightmare" -- was booed by detractors at the Cannes Film Festival and slammed by critics.
"The wallpaper emotes more than Ryan Gosling does in 'Only God Forgives,' an exercise in supreme style and minimal substance from 'Drive' director Nicolas Winding Refn," critic Peter Debruge wrote in Variety. His review was echoed with an increased level of vitriol by Hollywood Elsewhere proprietor Jeff Wells:
Movies really don't get much worse than Nicholas Winding Refn‘s Only God Forgives. It’s a shit macho fantasy — hyperviolent, ethically repulsive, sad, nonsensical, deathly dull, snail-paced, idiotic, possibly woman-hating, visually suffocating, pretentious. I realize I sound like Rex Reed on one of his rants, but trust me, please — this is a defecation by an over-praised, over-indulged director who thinks anything he craps out is worthy of your time. I felt violated, shat upon, sedated, narcotized, appalled and bored stiff.
In an interview with HuffPost Live host Ricky Camilleri, Refn said the knocks on "Only God Forgives" just proved he was getting somewhere with the film.
"When people love or hate your films, it's the only time you've actually penetrated. When the Sex Pistols play, it may not sound well, but you'll remember it," Refn offered. "That was like the whole point of making films: You're meant to react to it. If everybody likes it -- which, of course, is great -- it's the same thing as everybody hating it. Of course it's more pleasurable if everybody likes it -- because being degraded and hated by everyone is a terrible emotion -- but it's the same flip. It only becomes interesting if people love it or hate it for the same reason."
Watch the full response from Refn above. "Only God Forgives" is out on July 19.
This story appears in Issue 58 of our weekly iPad magazine, Huffington, in the iTunes App store, available Friday, July 19.