By the time Detective Chang jabs a fifth chopstick into Van Gogh's brain, we're not just covering our eyes, we're wondering why. The senseless act perfectly mirrors the senselessness of the story: Chang's trying to find out who put out a hit on him, but when he begins his chopstick dance, we already know the answer to that question and so does Chang.
This scene, like so many others in Nicolas Winding Refn's disaster of a movie, made the impossible possible: falling asleep while a man's limb is severed, falling asleep when a sword passes through a woman's body, falling asleep while Ryan Gosling just stands there, waiting.
Oh god, the standing and waiting. A better actor might have sold this role, but while facing all his ethical turmoil (I assume that's what he's facing--it might be a particularly disappointing bout of constipation) he never achieves anything more than blankness.
So thank goodness for Kristin Scott Thomas. She swoops in, a bundle of bleach and poison, bringing the only forward movement to a story that really doesn't need to move forward at all, and should have been terminated at the outset.
Utterly against type, she takes her character to a level of malevolence unseen since Jackie Weaver in Animal Kingdom (a movie you should not miss, if you haven't seen it already).
I don't know what to do when there's a single performance that shines like a diamond in a pile of shit. Is she objectively good, or is she better only in comparison? I've heard early clamors from the Twitterati for an Oscar nom for Thomas, and I find the thought strangely distasteful. Isn't the performance a failure when it's not in keeping with the rest of the movie?
I really shouldn't complain. At least she brought some entertainment to the whole dour business.