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Movie Breakdown: My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (Noah)

February 26, 2015


People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different.  In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing led us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all.  Read on!

The Impression:

Nicolas Winding Refn is a weird director. I mean sure, you can watch Drive and just say he’s another stylized action director, but then dig a little deeper, get your nose in Valhalla Rising or Bronson, and this guys got a whole other party raging in his head. That’s what this film is about, that other party.

The Breakdown:

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (which from this point forward will be referred to as My Life because I have fat fingers and I get sweaty easily) clocks in at a minute over an hour, and that was exactly the amount of time I could handle living inside of the domestic life of The Refns. I guess that’s what you get when you make the decision to film your famous-director husband in the throes of trying to film his poorly received, art-house, Thai, Gosling-starring action film. It isn’t that this is a bad movie, for what it is it’s actually a pretty incisive, revealing portrait of a director trying not to be defined by just one thing (Refn’s prior film Drive) and Refn (here being filmed by his wife, the director of the documentary) allows honest emotion to be captured for the screen. It’s just that Refn, mostly angry, sometimes sad, a lot of the time full-out depressed, is hard to watch. He comes across as petulant and self-obsessed and though you learn almost nothing about his wife (aside from the fact that she struggles with her professional life in the shadow of her husband) you do learn that living with Nicolas Winding Refn is the equivalent of living with a sad shark, who mopes around all day thinking about his hunger until somewhere someone does something and he lashes out, shiny teeth gleaming. You also learn that Ryan Gosling and Refn have a sort of bromance going on that involves a lot of hugging and talking about emotions. And even though Gosling (the star of Only God Forgives) is only in it for a few scenes, his natural warmth, his genuine sort-of goofy sweetness acts as a mirror to Refn, highlighting just how cold and emotionally withdrawn the director is. Again, it’s only an hour, and the length helps and mostly hurts it. We see Refn in his the thrall of his mood swings, over and over again, but we never get past the emotional pain to see why or what causes this. It ends up painting Refn as a whiny ponce (which maybe he is) but doesn’t give any reason that he’d be angry about his beautiful and lovely kids and big, crazy house in Bangkok. Instead you get just one hour to have one argument firmly slammed home – Nicolas Winding Refn is kind of an asshole.

The Lesson:

Don’t marry Nicolas Winding Refn.

My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn is due out on VOD and in select theaters on February 27.

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