It’s been several years since Ryan Gosling started in the film industry. He’s well known for his acting career, but Lost River, presented at A Certain Regard, is his first movie as a director.
In a dying town called Lost River, a mother of two struggles to pay her mortgage. While she sinks into a nightmare, her older son and their young neighbour try to undo the curse of their lives by discovering the secret of an old floating city.
Obviously Gosling’s first feature is influenced by other movie directors, but aren’t all films? Loving cinema is learning something from it, and luckily for the audience, Gosling has the talent to create something great from his influences.
It’s poetic, fantastical, graphical and beautiful. His cinematographic decisions are pertinent; the scenario is simple but effective, touching and current. Gosling has his own way of filming intertwined despair and hope, and knows how to create a claustrophobic suspense towards the very end of this cinematographic experiment. The story is both real and fantasised, which allows every member of the audience to interpret his/her own understanding of what is happening on the screen.
Gosling created his own team, mostly with people he had already worked with as an actor, and the result of his choices works well: cast, costumes, light, score… everything is in its place to let the director’s imagination overwhelm the spectator.
Christina Hendricks and Saoirse Ronan are perfect, as always. They give their characters profound depth and cold beauty. Matt Smith is frightening as he fully embodies his character, Bully, a crazy young boy who threatens to kill and burn everything and everyone.
Lost River is an intense experiment, midway between a social analysis of America on the decline and a homage to burlesque cinema. It’s a great debut for director Ryan Gosling, indicating better things to come.
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Watch the trailer for Lost River here: