Going with the flow
Release Date: 1 June
2015 | 15 | DVD Director: Ryan Gosling Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn
is renowned for his pretty boy looks, but it’s another kind of beauty that dominates his directorial debut: the edgy glamour of decay. Lost River is a film full of lovingly framed shots of derelict buildings, forever dwelling on detritus and the patinas of poverty. Plonk some pouting models into the midst of any of its scenic ruins, and you’d have a Vice fashion shoot.
What little plot there is concerns Billy ( Christina Hendricks), a single mother living in a desolate area of Detroit. Behind on her loan payments, she risks having the home she shares with her two sons demolished. Desperate to make ends meet, she takes a job at a sinister burlesque club. Meanwhile, eldest son Bones ( Iain De Caestecker) is, by collecting copper, risking the wrath of the appropriately named Bully ( Matt Smith, in roaring psychopath mode).
Though there’s talk of the titular town being subject to “an evil spell”, the fantasy elements are so slender as to be nigh on non- existent, more a matter of tone and style. The burlesque club, with its Grand Guignol routines, feels deeply in debt to David Lynch; the one Billy performs recalls 1960 face transplant horror Eyes Without A Face. It’s clear from the luridly coloured lighting that Gosling is also a fan of Italian directors like Mario Bava and Dario Argento. If nothing else, you have to admire his impeccable taste.
It’s a film blessed with some beautiful imagery. But there’s only so many shots of people silhouetted against purple sunsets or walking through fields of grass that you can take; after a while, no matter how pretty they are, these longueurs induce impatience. The aim was clearly to create something mythic, but the rather wobbly edifice Gosling has built creaks uncomfortably under the burden of portentousness placed upon it.
Still, Lost River shows great promise, even if it is frustratingly style over substance. There’s no doubt Gosling has a director’s eye. What we need to see next is what he could create given someone else’s script – and a little more self- control.
A Q& A with Gosling ( 40 minutes) and interviews with him, Saoirse Ronan and Matt Smith ( 25 minutes). Ian Berriman
Never let the Human Torch borrow your bike.