Film Review – Lost River (2014)

River - post

Title – Lost River (2014)

Director – Ryan Gosling (feature debut)

Cast – Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb

Plot – In the town of Lost River, a lower class family led by single mother Billy (Hendricks) and her son Bones (De Caestecker) struggle for survival. Their struggle is made worse by shady bank manager and club owner Dave (Mendelsohn) while Bones run in with local criminal Bully (Smith) could prove deadly. Bones discovery of a secret underwater city could be the answer to his family ever growing needs.

 “Well, it’s… close and somewhere over the rainbow, let’s put it that way”

Review by Eddie on 26/06/2015

For his directional debut, famed actor Ryan Gosling has created a mental trip of a movie that would more than likely leave David Lynch confused and bewildered with what is an incredibly undecipherable tale saved by some stunning imagery, some committed and bizarre acting turns and an ability to go for broke no matter the narrative costs.

Taking clear inspiration from his fellow neon loving and crazed directing friend Nicolas Winding Refn, Gosling captures the run down nature strewn streets of Detroit in a quite stunning fashion. From abandoned zoos, graffiti clad walls and soft top cars roaming empty bridges, Lost River is a visual feast for the eyes even though barely any if anything of the imagery connects with the heart or mind. It’s unclear exactly what Gosling was aiming for but with a story somehow centred around evil bank managers, lost underwater cities, copper collecting criminals and one particularly strange club, it’s obvious he didn’t really want us to know. It’s an amiable ambition for a first time director to have, not to conform, but there’s frustration to be found here in the fact that Gosling has worked with some of the best directors in the business, found such nice imagery and collected a cast that can all deliver the goods on their given day.

Without a typical central figure like most feature length films the majority of screen time is shared between mother and son duo Billy and Bones Played by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and by relatively unknown Iain De Caestecker and while Hendricks does a fine job in the tricky role of a mother desperate to do right by her two sons both her Billy and De Caestecker’s Bones aren’t overly appealing characters. Much of the films stand out acting stems from the ever good Ben Mendelsohn as bank manager/club owner Dave in what surely is the year’s most crazy turn (solo singing and solo dancing highlights) and the near unrecognisable one time Dr. Who mainstay Matt Smith as the OTT villain of the piece Bully who in a myriad of downright bizarre scenarios steals the show with his treatment of an unfortunate pet rat.

There are so many elements and plot lines unsuccessfully explored within Lost River and by the time the film comes to a seemingly abrupt ending you begin to realise just how much Gosling could’ve done with this tale that deep down could’ve been a new cult classic. It’s always nice to witness something different from the usual studio fodder and while Lost River has moments of greatness, some committed acting turns and a killer soundtrack, Gosling has tried just that little bit too hard in his quest to out-weird the kings of strange like Lynch and Refn that have produced the goods over many years now.

2 unlucky pet rats out of 5

11 responses to “Film Review – Lost River (2014)

  1. Seeing The Doctor as an all out Bully, make this one I really should see. I am curious at what Gosling took from working with Refn to this feature

  2. I’d quite like to see this. De Caestecker starred in a brilliant but very short lived British horror series called The Fades and he was so good. I’ve always wanted to see more of him.

  3. Good review of a compelling movie. You’re so right about the Lynch comparison. There’s an unsettling and eerie feeling underneath each scene.

    Arthouse fans should really dig the imagery. The visuals are the real highlight, influenced by Mallick and Refn.

    As for the film’s meaning, I’m still stumped but I think the Lost River concept is a metaphor for us – humanity. The way we live isn’t natural. Money isn’t natural, it corrupts each character in the movie. Nature reclaims its original state.

  4. Just watched this last night. It’s downright bizarre and you’re spot-on about Gosling perhaps overreaching in his attempts to out-weird both his idols and recent collaborators (i.e. Refn).

    • Oh yeh dude he really went for the weird didn’t he! There was potential here though, must say I’d watch his next directional effort with interest but another Lost River like film might kill his behind the scenes work.

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