Lost River is both written and directed by Gosling and stars; Christina Hendricks, Ian De Caestaeker, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Ben Mendelsohn and Eva Mendes. After premiering to an underwhelming reception at Cannes last year the film is finally set to hit theaters this week.
Lost River tells the tale of a town that has been decimated by an economic disaster. The story concentrates mainly on Billy (Christina Hendricks), a single mother, who desperate to protect her family is swept into a macabre underworld while her son discovers a secret underwater town. Lost River is a creepy, bizarre fantasy thriller which while succeeds at bringing Gosling’s vision to the screen, fails to impress us. Thing is that Lost River could have been great, many of the ideas are intriguing but the gonzo elements of the film get a little too much and the film doesn’t feel artistic, rather a desperate attempt to look artistic.
The look of the film is pretty much an amalgamation of the look of every film Gosling has starred in. Debie’s cinematography is fantastic as usual and slightly experimental at times. It is something that should be seen on the big screen, if possible. The look of the film reminds me of anything from Refn, the neonscapes of Debie/Noé and even some 70s Italian horror. The set of crumbling Detroit brings to mind Only Lovers Left Alive, Out of the Furnace, Killing Them Softly and any film that relies heavily on economically depressed areas. Lost River relies on them even more heavily.
The performances are also quite solid, Ben Mendelsohn is easily the pick of the performers as the creepy banker Dave. His character is very reminiscent to Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth in Blue Velvet and Mendelsohn does well to bring the freaky and outlandish persona of the character to the screen. Christina Hendricks and Ian De Caestaeker are also good and Hendricks’s character brings a lot of emotion to the story.
It is a very well made directorial debut by Gosling, and has definitely learned much from the last ten or more years we’ve seen him on screen. It’s clear that he’s been inspired by Drive director Nicolas Winding Refn and if he does continue to step behind the camera, he’ll only get better with the films he makes. He definitely has a future ahead of him as a director, with a unique voice in there somewhere underneath his homages, but he needs to work on his writing.
Lost River gets a 6.0/10.