A Danish filmmaker who rose to prominence by writing and directing the Pusher
trilogy. Prior to these films, the idea of a Danish crime film was laughable. Refn shattered that notion, crafting a trilogy that has become infamous for its bleak outlook and utterly uncompromising style. Born in 1970 to parents who worked in film, he moved to the United States when he was eleven and filmed Pusher
when he was twenty-six. Nearly all of his work has received critical acclaim, with one of his most recent films (Drive
) being a critical darling and a modest success in the United States. His films tend to focus on crime and violence, coupled with more existential themes like morality and spirituality. In recent years he seems to focus most of his films on larger-than-life masculine protagonists with violent tendencies. However, Only God forgives
received a very divisive critical response.
Known in Denmark as "l'Enfant Sauvage".
Refn and his body of work provide example of:
- Arch-Enemy: Of Lars von Trier
- Berserk Button:
- Once threw a pice of equipment on a crewmember who tried to wrap up a scene before Refn was done.
- While attending an acting school in New York he had an argument with a teacher and threw a desk into a wall.
- Full-Frontal Assault: In Bronson and Pusher II
- Doing It for the Art: To the point of being 1 million dollars in debt after Fear X.
- Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Refn has argued that Pusher was never intended to glamorize the criminal lifestyle. He selected a drug dealer as his subject simply because it was easy to think of ways to put pressure on the character.
- Mind Screw
- Motifs: Men making their own mythology: Bronson, Valhalla Rising, Drive and Only God Forgives.
- Nightmare Fuel / Nausea Fuel
- Rule of Cool / Rule of Symbolism
- Signature Style:
- Most of his films center on violence and criminality.
- His soundtracks often include electronic music or punk rock.
- Refn's films usually feature heavy use of contrast and primary colors, with at least one scene bathed in a single color of light, usually red. Refn does this because he is colorblind.
- Behind the scenes, Refn usually shoots in chronological order because it's easier for him to think the film though. In the Pusher-films it was helpful because it also helped the non-actor supporting cast in their roles.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The music often contrasts to the events happening around it.
- Only God Forgives often sets karaoke lounge music against shocking violence
- For Pusher II, Refn consulting real Danish criminals and discovered that their taste in music was very uncool. For this reason, several scenes featuring powerful criminals have soundtracks of very lame, "eurotrashy" music.