Release Date: April 10, 2015
Running Time: 95 minutes
Ryan Gosling’s spent much of this decade collaborating with either Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine, The Place Beyond the Pines) or Nicolas Winding Refn (Drive, Only God Forgives). So it comes as no surprise that the influence of these directors can be heavily felt throughout Gosling’s first film behind the cameras, the surreal melodrama Lost River. With his directorial debut, Gosling taps into the bleak realism of Cianfrance’s character studies and emulates Refn’s efforts to inexorably tie location to the narrative. However, Gosling’s modern-day but 1950s-tinged harrowing tale of a family trapped within the confines of a dying town owes less to Cianfrance and Refn than it does to David Lynch. Gosling partly reverse engineers Blue Velvet’s suburban nightmare so he can investigate whether a lawless blue-collar community can corrupt the pure of heart. Lost River has its own Frank Booth in Ben Mendelsohn’s seedy entrepreneur, Dave. He’s not a criminal but like any good capitalist he does heartlessly exploit the weak and the desperate he hires to perform at the nightclub he runs that caters to very unusual tastes. The typically unsettling Mendelsohn even gives a Nick Cave-eqese wounded performance of “Cool Water” at the nightclub in a scene that favorable recalls Dean Stockwell lip-syncing to “In Dreams” in Blue Velvet. Dave entices Billy, Christina Hendrick’s cash-strapped mother of two, to take a job at his nightclub so she can afford to keep her house. Billy’s eldest son Bones, played with open vulnerability by Agents of SHIELD's Iain De Caestecker, has his hands full protecting himself and his next-door neighbor (Saoirse Ronan) from Matt Smith's local thug, the aptly named Bully. Bones' efforts to slay the proverbial beast that torments his family plays out in a fictional economically distressed Detroit working-class town that looks like it was dressed for The Walking Dead. Gosling forces Billy and Bones to witness or experience many strange and horrifying things that threaten to corrupt their souls. But there’s also a flooded city Bones discovers that offers the promise of a better tomorrow. Much of Lost River flows freely from Gosling's vivid imagination, resulting in an unstructured metaphorical journey into the unknown. What Lost River lacks—and occasionally needs to alleviate the intensity—is some good old-fashioned Lynchian humor. Mendelsohn and the uncharacteristically brutish Smith come as close as possible to providing moments of levity, but Gosling doesn't find anything remote amusing about the situation Billy and her family find themselves in. Gosling’s lack of humor does not mortally wound Lost River. This is a directorial debut that offers many weird and wonderful moments. It also announces Gosling as a filmmaker who’s borrowed from the best to present his own vision of a community that’s lost its way.
Aired: April 9, 2015
Web site: http://LostRiverMovie.com/