Lost River

It got booed at Cannes, but our re­viewer is much more kind to Ryan Gosling’s di­rec­to­rial de­but. We’re nice peo­ple.

SFX - - Rated -

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.

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