What it's about:
In this neo-noir thriller directed by Hollywood star Ryan Gosling, a single mother of two (Christina Hendricks) descends into a dark underworld trying to save her childhood home and hold her family together, while her son sets off on a journey to uncover the secret behind the origins of their abandoned city, Lost River.
What we thought:
Lost River is not a friendly film. The audience’s mind is constantly harassed to figure out from the insipid clues as to the backstory of this dreary town, populated by the saddest people you can imagine, and wonder at the point of it all. Ryan Gosling, Hollywood dreamboat who himself has starred in some pretty dark films, wrote and directed this fantastical nihilistic absurdity, creating a directorial style that he hopes will make him stand out. Although the film was pretty unique in that, but whether or not the audience wants it is something else entirely.Lost River is a town scarred by some mysterious economic collapse and the only people who remain are those with nowhere else to go and those holding on tightly to their past lives. Bones (Iain De Caestecker) is a teenager with dreams of leaving the desolate place, while his mother Billy (Christine Hendricks) takes on a dangerous new job in order to keep the bank from foreclosing on her house. The affections of the girl next door (Saoirse Ronan) and a psychotic gangster out for revenge (Sam Smith) lead Bones to an underwater town with a spell upon it.Reading that short synopsis Lost River sounds like some fevered dream where you aren’t sure if it’s a nightmare. That dreamlike state is present throughout and although it might sound good to the artistic inclined, the whole point of the film seems lost in a cloud of delusions and macabre theatre, although the demented violent club that spawned from the desolation was probably the best part of the film. It turns humankind’s bloody desires into a show, pretending that the violence isn’t real, although the violence on Billy’s psyche is very much real. Eva Mendes, supporting her partner in his filmmaking endeavours, was the best in the whole film, and seeing as her character didn’t actually have any depth shows how uninspiring the other characters are.The audience struggled to connect with the characters on any real level, except perhaps for a short emotional moment when Ronan’s character’s pet rat gets decapitated (this rat will make you cry), but other than that you find it hard to care for these people who only really should leave the town and find a new start somewhere else. The fantastical idea of a spell keeping them there just seemed too arbitrary to make any real sense to the plot points of the film.Perhaps a good practice run for Gosling, Lost River definitely won’t be remembered in his directorial run which I am sure we will see more of. Although this film was way too ambitious for a first time director and writer, one can pick out some seeds that will hopefully germinate for Gosling into an interesting future as a filmmaker. Hopefully next time he’ll attempt something with a bit more realism to help keep his feet grounded.
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