Nicolas Winding Refn’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Drive (should have been in the Best Picture and Director categories, but that’s a different story) sees him re-team with the brilliant Ryan Gosling for Only God Forgives, penned by Winding Refn.

We got an excellent first image of Gosling in the film at the start of this month, and now a host of new set photos has arisen, along with an intriguing development.

But before we go any further, the official synopsis:

“Bangkok. Ten years ago Julian killed a cop and went on the run. Now he manages a Thai boxing club as a front for a drugs operation. Respected in the criminal underworld, deep inside, he feels empty.

When Julian’s brother murders a prostitute the police call on retired cop Chang – the Angel of Vengeance. Chang allows the father to kill his daughter’s murderer, then ‘restores order’ by chopping off the man’s right hand.

Julian’s mother Jenna – the head of a powerful criminal organization – arrives in Bangkok to collect her son’s body. She dispatches Julian to find his killers and ‘raise hell’.

Increasingly obsessed with the Angel of Vengeance, Julian challenges him to a boxing match, hoping that by defeating him he might find spiritual release… but Chang triumphs. A furious Jenna plots revenge and the stage is set for a bloody journey through betrayal and vengeance towards a final confrontation and the possibility of redemption.”

In the new images, we can see a bruised and bloodied Gosling (looking awesome despite the beating he’s taken), and a very observant reader of The Playlist tipped them off the fact that Argentine writer-director Gasper Noé is talking to Gosling on the set in the very same photos.

At the moment, it’s unclear why. The Playlist note that through the promotion of Drive, Gosling noted that he’d called Noé for advice on the (immense) elevator scene:

“I actually called up Gaspar Noé and asked him how he did the head smashing, because he’s the king of head smashing. And he told me how he did it, and I met with him in France also, where he went through how they did it and I tried to emulate it. But it’s not as good as his. But I had a kiss. He didn’t have that.”

And given that he looks so badly beaten here, maybe it was of a similar nature, but this time the talks transpired in person.

It’s also possible that Noé is involved with the project on some kind of second unit director level, or something in that vein, working with Winding Refn and Gosling for what’s sure to be a fantastic follow-up to Drive.

And we can’t forget that at the very end of last year, Bret Easton Ellis was tweeting about the possibility of having Noé direct Gosling in the author’s The Golden Suicides, based on the true story of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake’s suicides within a week of each other following their alleged harassment by Scientologists.

So, to sum up: we don’t know much. At the very least, we can hope that Noé and Gosling were discussing The Golden Suicides, because I’d love to see Gosling in that film too.

And we for now, we can speculate as to Noé’s potential involvement in Only God Forgives too. No doubt, once word spreads around the Internet, an official answer will surface before long, and you can be sure we’ll bring it to you when it does.

To add to all of that, Winding Refn has also tweeted the following himself:

“So sorry for disappearing but we’re pushing hard toward our goal: be ready for last week of August. More news soon.”

If the last week of August is his goal, that would certainly suggest that he’s priming the film for a debut at Venice Film Festival, which is running from 29th August – 8th September this year. 2011 saw him take the Best Director award at Cannes with Drive, a very much well-deserved win for him, so here’s to hoping he’ll have the same success if he does take the film to Venice at the end of summer.

For now, here are the great new set photos, via JustJared, for you to see for yourself. As usual, you can click to enlarge.