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  Lost River Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Year: 2014
Director: Ryan Gosling
Stars: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele, Landyn Stewart, Rob Zabrecky, Shannon Plumb, Torrey Wigfield, Misty Robinette, Holly Schlegel, Thomas McDonald, Larry Mongo
Genre: Drama, Thriller, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bones (Iain De Caestecker) lives in what remains of Lost River with his mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) and his toddler brother, and as an example of how whatever community used to be there is fast dissipating, just today he was talking with a neighbour who had loaded his belongings into the back of his truck and was getting out of there, he had no reason to stay as nature was well and truly taking back the city. Helped by the demolition crews which knock down the dilapidated dwellings, the place is becoming a ghost town, but Billy is determined to stay in what used to be her grandmother's house, she cannot imagine leaving. Bones meanwhile takes advantage of the situation by liberating copper pipes for scrap - or he does for a while.

It's safe to say Ryan Gosling didn't get the best reception for his directorial debut, certainly not the same reaction as those classics and cult classics of cinema he plundered did, and the commentators were keen to point out this bit was from there, that bit from somewhere else, and so forth. But what if you didn't have access to the amount of movies Gosling evidently did, and weren't too bothered about his influences? After all, by this stage in his career he had achieved heartthrob status and could do no wrong in the eyes of many of his fans, would they be dazzled by his expertise or simply wait around for a film of his he actually appeared in so they could drink in his good looks?

If you wanted to think Ryan was as clever as he was handsome, then it's possible you could make that rather biased assessment from his work on Lost River, and as both performer and public figure he preferred to sustain a certain enigma about his persona so if you didn't understand what he was getting at - he penned the script as well - you could conclude he was very deep and beyond the ken of us mere mortals. On the other hand, there was something quite patronising about that tone, and it extended to the location where his cast and crew slummed it in literal Detroit slums, which lent a distinctive look to the film, though it could have been more distinctive in practice, but the notion he didn't need to explain what he was getting at did him no favours when plenty called him out on it.

The trouble was, if you did scratch the surface you'd find nothing but various other scenes from other works, and to his credit he was upfront about wishing to craft an amalgam of what would be watched of an evening in the Gosling household, you can imagine triple bills of Dario Argento, Harmony Korine and David Lynch would be highly diverting for some. But there came a point where you'd say, come on Ryan, that's what they would do but what do you really think? It's all very well sustaining the mystery of what's going on in your head, but if it was all someone else's memories then watching this was akin to starting a conversation with an interesting-seeming person only to find they were shallow and easily led. Certainly there was an attraction in observing, but you could not envisage a long relationship.

Movie buffs would be drawn in by the cast, however, which was a one of a kind mixture of TV stars like Mad Men's Christina Hendricks and Doctor Who's Matt Smith, who played a villain who to all intents and purposes runs the destitute area in spite of having one henchman to do his bidding, not to mention the poor chap is still hanging around after having his lips cut off by his boss, and cult performers from the big screen like Saoirse Ronan playing a character called Rat because she has a pet rat (why wasn't the rat called Rat, then?) and the one and only Barbara Steele as her grandmother, a Mario Bava connection for more Euro-horror allusions (Hendricks pretends to cut off her face in Les Yeux Sans Visage style), but she doesn't have any lines, and it's always good to hear her speak. Mrs Gosling Eva Mendes showed Billy the ropes as a performance artist (not a stripper, as some publicity had it) and De Caestecker and Smith had a showdown, but in spite of some attractive colour photography there was a "was that it?" feeling by the end of a daft exercise in others' style. Music by Johnny Jewel.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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