Lost River

Go­ing with the flow

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: 1 June

2015 | 15 | DVD Direc­tor: Ryan Gosling Cast: Christina Hen­dricks, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ro­nan, Eva Men­des, Ben Men­del­sohn

Ryan Gosling

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.

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