Lost River (2014)
Ryan Gosling made a movie. That’s right, a full length feature film. And he’s getting a lot of flak for it. Some of it warranted, some of it exaggerated.
I get it: there must be a time in every actor’s life when they feel like they’d finally like some creative control in the movie-making process. Angelina Jolie and Natalie Portman are just the most recent examples. But let’s look at it as not another actor trying to make a movie, but as the directorial debut of a film student: Clearly, Gosling has been inspired by David Lynch and tries to capture some of the visual hyperbole and bizarre characters. And you know where his training comes from, as the actor Ryan Gosling has carried at least two movies by a director who emphasizes style over substance. And like Nicholas Winding Refn, Gosling has a good hand at assembling a cast of very gifted and iconic actors (Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, and the ever so brilliant Ben Mendelsohn). Gosling had a vision, even if it may have been a poorly conceived one. Sure, Lost River is a little too long, and heavily stylized to the point that it becomes almost nonsensical, but Hollywood produces many more movies which are much, much worse than this.
Maybe people are having a hard time admitting this, but Ryan Gosling is a talented actor and a beautiful man, but he’s also not half bad as a director. The visuals are stunning, the music gripping, and the acting is quite wonderful to watch. Some of the ideas are really interesting, even though they don’t end up fulfilling their potential. But I can appreciate a quirky art film that captures a feeling of gloomy nostalgia.
And yet, I can’t shake the feeling that Gosling is trying to tell us something about the current state of America, but it’s somehow not translating. Too pretty. Too stylish. Too in your face and over the top. In a highly saturated color scheme. Subtlety is not a strength of this movie…
It’s easy on the eyes but perhaps a little too easy for the reality it’s trying to address? Poverty is a huge problem in America, but it doesn’t look like Christina Hendricks in flawless make-up and a red, bejeweled dress.
Three stars for originality and yet another great, but random dance scene. What’s up with those?