It got booed at Cannes, but our reviewer is much more kind to Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut. We’re nice people.
Release Date: 10 April
15 | 105 minutes Director: Ryan Gosling Cast: Matt Smith, Christina Hendricks, Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker
It’s a tough life being
beautiful. People don’t want your mind, they want to put you in a box and keep you on display. That’s one of the key themes of Lost River, but it could also be a description of the predicament Ryan Gosling faced going into his directorial debut.
Gosling could’ve made any mainstream film and people would’ve gone to see it. If he’d made a romantic drama along the lines of The Notebook he would have in- built audience/ critical support. But he didn’t. Instead, he crafted a gloriously surreal celebration of SFX culture, a left- leaning tribute to the working underclass of the poorest parts of America, and a collection of tributes to the directors he clearly loves.
That those directors include Mario Bava ( lighting, casting Barbara Steele), David Lynch ( tense musical sequences, dark tone), Terrence Malick ( poetic cinematography/ performances) and Terry Gilliam ( Lost River is basically Tideland’s cooler brother) tells you everything about the trippy experience you’ll have floating down Gosling’s River.
We follow Bones ( Iain De Caestecker), a teenager supporting his single mother by salvaging scrap from abandoned buildings, pursued by Bully ( Matt Smith). But when Bones’s mum gets a job in a sinister nightclub, the fight for survival really begins…
The key revelation of River is that Gosling’s “one of us” – it’s essentially a feature- length adaptation of this magazine, complete with Matt Smith as cover star. Smith is a revelation; stripped of the Doctor’s charm ( and hair) he’s a terrifying presence.
Lost River isn’t for everyone. Which partly explains why it was made to sleep with the fishes by critics in Cannes, who openly booed it. But we wonder if some of the backlash was linked to the misconception that people who look like Ryan Gosling can’t be fans of the sort of films we hold dearest. It’s fine for someone like Tarantino to pay homage, but Gosling? Get back in the rom- com where you belong!
Whatever the reason, it would be a shame for Gosling’s debut to sink to the bottom of the sea. He’s made mistakes – many first- time directors do – but this is a fascinating vision, a gorgeous film we’re sure many SF fans will love. Sam Ashurst
Gosling’s said he was inspired by ’ 80s fantasy films; Bully certainly feels like the kind of cruel characters we grew up hating.
Like a featurelength adaptation of this magazine
Still the buildings wouldn’t talk.