Ryan Gosling’s close BFFship with his Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn is the stuff of modern Hollywood bromantic legend. But it’s never been chronicled as intimately as it is in Liv Corfixen’s new film My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn—an unusually personal portrait of the making of their polarizing 2013 art house thriller Only God Forgives. The film, which premiered to jeers at Cannes, stars Gosling as an expat gangster caught up in a blood feud with a brutal, sword-wielding police captain in Bangkok. Corfixen’s doc opens February 27.
It’s very personal because Corfixen happens to be married to Refn. Tagging along to Thailand with their two young children during the Only God Forgives shoot, Corfixen’s camera captures Refn’s fluctuating creative process and private anxieties with a stark, probing honesty as he preps his most challenging film to date while worrying if critics will tank it, and his career.
He’s not the only one burdened by the undertaking. Straining to keep it together as practical and creative hurdles threaten to derail her husband’s sanity, Corfixen exposes her own frustrations within the walls of their temporary high-rise digs, a haven and a prison for the director and his family as they spend months living in a strange city for the sake of Refn’s art.
But bright moments punctuate the darkness, like when Gosling arrives in town and joins the family fold. Corfixen keenly captures her husband’s deeply collaborative connection with his other partner in crime at home, on set, and in one sequence, road tripping to a local film festival for a $40,000 appearance fee that will add much-needed cash to the Only God Forgives budget.
Corfixen captures that bond at work in this exclusive clip from My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn (in theaters and VOD Friday). In it, Gosling wordlessly shadows Refn’s movements while filming an evocative sequence with his hands—a recurring symbol of the violent sins that haunt his character—before the camera watches the two hug it out from a distance.