Friday, February 27, 2015

"My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn" Review - Written by Tim Hellman

Documentary film about the making of the controversial 2013 crime drama flick 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES'; which was written and directed by Nicols Winding Refn. It was directed and filmed by first time feature filmmaker Liv Corfixen; Refn's wife. It features appearances by Refn, Corfixen, their two daughters, Ryan Gosling (the star of 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES' and 'DRIVE'; which was also helmed by Refn) and another equally popular cult filmmaker; Alejandro Jodorowsky. Refn previously appeared in the 2013 documentary film 'JODOROWSKY'S DUNE'; which was about Jodorowksy's failed attempts to make his own ambitious version of the popular science fiction novel 'Dune'. I found this documentary feature to be extremely insightful, oddly interesting and equally emotionally involving.

The film takes place during the six-month shoot of 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES', in Bangkok, from the beginning of the filming process till it's premier; at the Cannes Film Festival. Corfixen follows her husband around (with a camera) as he obsessively contemplates every individual step, and unique decision, of the making of that critically polarized film. Refn constantly questions whether the movie will be good enough, and if it's unique and different enough; from his universally praised 2011 masterpiece 'DRIVE'. Corfixen also talks to Gosling, Jodorowsky and their two kids about what they think of Refn and his insane filmmaking process.

The movie really delves deep into how the success of 'DRIVE' has caused Refn just as much stress, and self doubt, as it has joy. He constantly compares his new film to his last (very popular) feature. It does a great job of showing the madness that critical praise, and Box Office success, can cause a skilled and talented filmmaker; such as Refn. The documentary is only 60 minutes long and, while it could have been just a special feature on the 'ONLY GOD FORGIVES' video release, I think the short running length makes it that much more enjoyable. We see just enough of Refn's life, during the filming of that movie, to get a good feel and understanding of the mental state he was in. I actually like 'ONLY GOD GORGIVES' better than 'DRIVE' and I think this is a unique masterpiece, in its own right, too. Seeing how mentally unstable Refn was (during the making of this documentary) actually makes me feel like I'm not as crazy as I sometimes think I am; or at least I'm not alone in my obsessive mental illness!

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