Only God Forgives is all style, no substance. It's one of the most infuriatingly bad movies I've ever sat through, mostly because I expected so much more from it. I'm a big fan of Refn and Gosling's previous movie, Drive, and this is very much not that. Refn sacrifices character development and narrative structure to craft what is essentially a self-indulgent piece of hot garbage. We get it, you're a complex snowflake of a filmmaker.
Gosling plays Julian, a nonspecific criminal with a psychotic, pedophile brother who gets murdered, because of course he does. Julian's mother (Thomas) comes to town to convince her son to take revenge. No background info is ever told on these people, nor do we have any reason to root for them. Gosling delivers a weak, limited performance. Kristin Scott Thomas goes too far, immediately being unlikable from the first moment we meet her. None of the other characters pop. Even the villain is an unnecessary enigma. Frankly, anybody else could've done better just by trying a little hard in this department.
I'm not gonna sugarcoat it. I hated this movie. Only God Forgives tells no story, and it never tries to either. If you can enjoy a movie that exists solely to show off a neon, Thai landscape with a synth music background, then have at it. But if you're like me, and you look for a good story and interesting characters, take my advice and leave this one on the shelf.