Verdict: 1 / 5
I knew this would happen one day. Ryan Gosling would go completely nuts one day in pursuit of his idea of art; it was only a matter of time.
In his directorial debut, he seems to have gathered together a lot of different ideas of things he liked seeing in films and thrown them all together on the floor. And then filmed the pile burning. Without the experience or vision, it’s hard to know what Lost River is meant to be at all.
The plot focuses on Billy (Hendricks) a single mother of two, including son Bones (De Castescker) in the dilapidated modern ruins of Detroit. The film generally has two main threads running through it: Billy’s attempt to get a job and save her house, and Bones’ interactions with local bullies and interesting neighbour girl, Rat. There’s a general theme of fairy tales woven into the story: lost cities, magic spells and fantastical elements all abound in scenes and dialogue between the characters.
However, the film remains a meandering, disjointed mess. It’s like Gosling tried to do what Refn and Malick do (and they can be pretty incomprehensible at the best of times), and shoot some visually interesting scenes. But there’s nothing that really seems to connect them, and although it seems mean to dismiss art for its inability to be analysed, I really do think that not even Gosling knows exactly what some of the pieces of this film are meant to be.
It’s a bold, dramatic first film to direct, and he should get some credit for that. But as a film on its own, it almost stands apart from the traditional scoring system in how hard it is to connect with this film. I almost want to invent a new kind of alien symbol to give as a rating instead. I think this film would like that. But as it is, I don’t ever want to watch this movie again.