Latest Entertainment News Headlines

Review: My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

My Life Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn
02.25.2015
7 10

PLOT: Having enjoyed worldwide success with his neo-noir DRIVE, director Nicolas Winding Refn tackles a much different journey with his follow-up film, ONLY GOD FORGIVES, while his wife documents the highs and lows of the production.

REVIEW: MY LIFE DIRECTED BY NICOLAS WINDING REFN (sometimes referred to as simply "My Life Directed") is my favorite kind of documentary: the kind examining the agony and the ecstasy of making a movie. Naturally, anyone who loves the cinema will be interested in the behind-the-scenes drama that goes on; making a movie is a draining, often impossible-seeming undertaking, but on the best of days a heavenly feeling permeates the set. This doc, which examines Nicolas Winding Refn as he embarks on his surreal, inscrutable follow-up to DRIVE, the Bangkok-set thriller ONLY GOD FORGIVES, predominantly focuses on the agony part. And it's just as morbidly fascinating to watch as one could (guiltily?) hope for.

The godfather (pun intended) of movie documentaries is HEARTS OF DARKNESS, which saw the tumultuous production of Francis Ford Coppola's nightmarish Vietnam epic APOCALYPSE NOW predominantly from the perspective of Coppola's wife, Eleanor. MY LIFE DIRECTED has earned comparisons to HEARTS because it takes the same POV: Refn's put-upon wife, Liv Corfixen, documents her husband as he moves the whole family (they have two children) to Thailand for six months to work on his weird new film. In both cases we see the public face of the outwardly-confidant director collapse, replaced by expressions of doubt, fear, immaturity and depression. The toll of making a movie that is getting away from him not only weighs heavily on the artist, but his loved ones too, and the further into his fractured vision he goes, the more his assurance it's a failure becomes.

ONLY GOD FORGIVES came right on the heels of DRIVE, which was both an artistic and commercial success for Refn, who had previously enjoyed plaudits from the arthouse crowd almost exclusively. DRIVE won Refn the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival, became an instant-classic with film geeks and put Refn on the radar as a very important filmmaker to watch. Refn, whose public persona is that of the affected, too-cool-for-school auteur, embraced the love he received for DRIVE while also feeling the impulse to fight against it, leading him to craft a hyper-weird creation that is ONLY GOD FORGIVES. From the first moments of MY LIFE DIRECTED, we see Refn's self-doubt already eating away at him, as the man appears simultaneously determined not to make DRIVE 2 and worried that his latest won't be accepted by his newfound fans. We can assume almost every artist is unsure of his or herself at one point or another, but seeing Refn morosely brood for 90% of the documentary is compelling in an indescribable way. (On a personal note, I've met Refn twice and both times he exuded the casual, cocksure attitude he's come to be associated with, not a hint of insecurity to be found.)

For her part, Corvixen plays both the supportive wife and aggressive documentarian looking for answers, turning the camera on the director and prying him for answers: why is he depressed, how did the scene go today, what is going wrong? We don't receive much insight into why Refn has chosen this particular story to tell after DRIVE, but we do quickly comprehend that he understands it as little as eventual audiences would. ("I've spent three years making this film and I don't really know what it's about," he moans.) In amusing moments, he frustratingly attempts to explain his ideas to his star Ryan Gosling, who just as clearly doesn't "get it"; based on Gosling's wry expression half of the time he's with Refn, we discover the only person who might actually take the director completely seriously is the man himself. And perhaps that's part of his frustration.

Yet for all its honesty, MY LIFE DIRECTED still comes up a little short on true drama. (It's not even close to being as explosive as HEARTS OF DARKNESS.) An odd thing about it is the runtime: 60 minutes. It's quite perplexing that it's so short; there must be so much more to explore. One explanation for its brevity could be Refn; at one point in the movie, his wife softly complains that he won't allow her to film when there's a "crisis" on set. From what we can gather, there are indeed plenty of crises on set, as indicated by the director's perpetually sullen mood and frequent whining fits. Even the film's rocky reception at its initial Cannes Film Festival screening isn't shown or talked about, and while a somewhat bemused Refn reads a scathing review aloud the next day, the primarily negative/disappointed reaction to Only God Forgives is more or less ignored.

But this is their movie, and this is what they want us to see. In the last moments, which show Liv and Nicolas exchange pronouncements of love and understanding, we recognize MY LIFE DIRECTED is more about Liv's determination to stick close to her difficult hubby while he eagerly pursues whatever project he's working on. (We see, in those final moments, that he's already itching to leave home again and start something anew.) It's a bittersweet note the film strikes, as one half of the couple comes to grips with the fact that she may not ever quite be the other half's true love.

Extra Tidbit: The film opens in select theaters, and is available on all VOD platforms and iTunes on Friday, February 27th
Source: JoBlo.com

RECOMMENDED MOVIE NEWS

MORE FUN FROM AROUND THE WEB

Strikeback
Not registered? Sign-up!
Or

12:26PM on 02/25/2015

He WAS awesome...

Pusher, Bronson, and Drive were awesome. Only God Forgives was straight up dumpster trash. Talk about a boring crapfest. Seriously! I enjoy his style, but come on. That movie was a cruel joke. His next movie Neon Demon is getting me pumped from the cast alone though.
Pusher, Bronson, and Drive were awesome. Only God Forgives was straight up dumpster trash. Talk about a boring crapfest. Seriously! I enjoy his style, but come on. That movie was a cruel joke. His next movie Neon Demon is getting me pumped from the cast alone though.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+0
9:00AM on 02/25/2015
I'm looking forward to this. I'm a big fan of OGF. Wish they would've delved into the reception of the film more (and any on-set "crises")
I'm looking forward to this. I'm a big fan of OGF. Wish they would've delved into the reception of the film more (and any on-set "crises")
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
+2
8:31AM on 02/25/2015
You'll never have a making of documentary that even approaches Hearts of Darkness again. The world is far too safe, boring, antiseptic, whiny, corporate, etc. a place to ever allow a movie to be filmed under conditions like that. Which is a shame. It's a brilliant movie. Lost in La Mancha was also very good, though obviously quite different.

Looking forward to My Life though. Winding-Refn is one of the very few dangerous filmmakers left in the world. Everything he has done hasn't been to my
You'll never have a making of documentary that even approaches Hearts of Darkness again. The world is far too safe, boring, antiseptic, whiny, corporate, etc. a place to ever allow a movie to be filmed under conditions like that. Which is a shame. It's a brilliant movie. Lost in La Mancha was also very good, though obviously quite different.

Looking forward to My Life though. Winding-Refn is one of the very few dangerous filmmakers left in the world. Everything he has done hasn't been to my taste (Only God Forgives was a letdown) but I respect the hell out of him and outright love a most of his films.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
10:44AM on 02/25/2015
Who else makes that list of dangerouse filmakers, out of curiosity?
Who else makes that list of dangerouse filmakers, out of curiosity?
6:34AM on 02/25/2015
Love to get an insight into his mind. I absolutely love Drive. It's one of the best films I've seen. What led to him following that up by making a film critically panned for the most part? It's like he subconsciously wanted to lose new fans.
Either way, he's an amazingly talented director and am very keen to see this.
Love to get an insight into his mind. I absolutely love Drive. It's one of the best films I've seen. What led to him following that up by making a film critically panned for the most part? It's like he subconsciously wanted to lose new fans.
Either way, he's an amazingly talented director and am very keen to see this.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:37AM on 02/25/2015
It's only my opinion, but I don't think fans enter into his thinking. I don't think he cares at all. He makes the films he wants to make. I don't like Only God Forgives. I think it was a series of half thought out ideas that don't form a whole.There is some brilliant imagery though it's not a brilliant film. But I would still rather pay to sit through that than endure any boring fucking paint-by-numbers, French TAKEN 9 bullshit for free.
It's only my opinion, but I don't think fans enter into his thinking. I don't think he cares at all. He makes the films he wants to make. I don't like Only God Forgives. I think it was a series of half thought out ideas that don't form a whole.There is some brilliant imagery though it's not a brilliant film. But I would still rather pay to sit through that than endure any boring fucking paint-by-numbers, French TAKEN 9 bullshit for free.
8:37AM on 02/25/2015
Sorry. Browser crashed.
Sorry. Browser crashed.
8:37AM on 02/25/2015
And again.
And again.
8:37AM on 02/25/2015
And once more.
And once more.
9:03AM on 02/25/2015
That's a good review of the film. Though I liked it a lot more, I never could understood how PPl said there was no value in the film. There was at least some very skilled imagery, mood, and score.
That's a good review of the film. Though I liked it a lot more, I never could understood how PPl said there was no value in the film. There was at least some very skilled imagery, mood, and score.
6:14AM on 02/25/2015
Only god forgives is a hipster crapfest.
Only god forgives is a hipster crapfest.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:47AM on 02/25/2015
OVERRATED DIRECTOR, YA I SAID IT! DRIVE SUCKS
OVERRATED DIRECTOR, YA I SAID IT! DRIVE SUCKS
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
1:33AM on 02/25/2015
Awesome review! Looking forward to this one.

A lot of people don't know about this but there was in fact a documentary called 'Gambler' made about Refn during an earlier crisis in his film career: paying off a 5.5 million crowns debt following the failure of his art-house movie, 'Fear X.' It's a rare little gem not readily available unfortunately but if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend watching it. It's just incredible how the guy was able to save his family, his job, and himself
Awesome review! Looking forward to this one.

A lot of people don't know about this but there was in fact a documentary called 'Gambler' made about Refn during an earlier crisis in his film career: paying off a 5.5 million crowns debt following the failure of his art-house movie, 'Fear X.' It's a rare little gem not readily available unfortunately but if you ever get a chance, I highly recommend watching it. It's just incredible how the guy was able to save his family, his job, and himself during the process. I applaud his perseverance.
Your Reply:



Please email me when someone replies to my comment
8:41AM on 02/25/2015
Cheers. I'd never heard of this. I will definitely look it up. Available on any streaming service?
Cheers. I'd never heard of this. I will definitely look it up. Available on any streaming service?
9:59AM on 02/25/2015
No worries! This just popped up, never saw it online before but I believe you can check it out here:

[link]

Man, just looking at those photos alone makes me so happy in the end that he made it despite having the cards stacked against him.
No worries! This just popped up, never saw it online before but I believe you can check it out here:

[link]

Man, just looking at those photos alone makes me so happy in the end that he made it despite having the cards stacked against him.
View All Comments

Latest Entertainment News Headlines


Top
Loading...

Featured Youtube Videos

Views and Counting

Movie Hottie Of The Week

More

Most Popular Upcoming

More