Sunday, 28 June 2015

Lost River (2014) Layla's review

If there's one thing Ryan Gosling has got for him as a director, its that he can round up an awesome team of people to work for him. Most noticeable for his debut feature is the inclusion of BenoƮt Debie, the cinematographer who had previously worked on Spring Breakers, Irreversible and Enter the Void. In short, this film looks incredible. The lighting is perfect, the tinting looks great, and the camera is unafraid to just linger on a beautiful sunset, or the wisps of an out of control fire for that matter.

As great as Lost River is to look at, it is a very hard film to love as, to be honest, the story just isn't there. We see young Bones (Iain de Caestecker) struggling to survive in a ransacked Detroit. His mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) is three months behind on the mortgage and is advised by a rather blunt banker Dave (Ben Mendelsohn) to try working in a club of his. Bones is being bullied by a guy called Bully (Matt Smith), who likes to cut peoples lips off, but finds some solace in a girl called Rat (Saoirse Ronan), who tells him of the curse that was placed on Lost River after a neighbouring town was flooded for a reservoir. You can however break the curse by retrieving a piece of the drowned town to the surface. Billy goes to work at the burlesque, headlined by Cat (Eva Mendes), which specialises in realistic gory murders.

The film kinds of meanders along, and you find yourself not really caring too much what happens to the characters at the end. There is very little insight into the characters. You wonder why a character like Bully is allowed to go around, doing what he does, when there is an obvious police presence. Bones has very little charisma, and seems to just drift around the screen. This may be a rare case where you could accuse this film of not having enough exposition. I want to know more about the burlesque club, I want to know more of why there is a curse on Lost River.

As well as directing this film, Gosling wrote this film too. Maybe this script should of had a few more drafts put in, or the input of someone else. Much of this film looks like other films. There is obvious nods to David Lynch's Eraser Head and Blue Velvet, and Gosling has taken a lot from his time acting in Nicholas Winding Refn's Drive and Only God Forgives. These references can be distracting, which maybe explains why this film got such the bashing it did when it was unleashed at Cannes

Lost River is like a bands first album; a whole life time of influence and ideas poured into a single entity, for the fear that this may be the only time you'll get to express yourself in this way. Lost River gives us some great imagery and ideas, but falls foul of Gosling's indulgence. I'd be curious to see his next film, and hopefully he'll be able to restrain himself a little, let his actors act a little more, and maybe develop some of his own stylistic traits.

For now though we'll just be left wondering who Gosling can round up for his next film, if he'll get the funding. And lets hope that he decides to not include Matt Smith's dodgy American accent next time.



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