Gone are the days that Noah Calhoun, the rustic charming country boy from the most overrated romance of the past decade, The Notebook, was Ryan Gosling’s prime identifier. By the way, those were terrible days. Over the years, Gosling has delivered potent performances demonstrating a flair for the dramatic (Blue Valentine, The Ides of March)as well as the darkly comic (Half Nelson). More obscure audiences know him for a musician too (See: Dead Man’s Bones).You gotta know, the guy has some serious tricks. However, critics seem to have significantly less faith in his potential as a director. One can gauge from the promo that Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River,is going to have a pretty select audience.You qualify as a potential audience of Gosling’s fantasy neo-noir offbeat piece of art if you:
- are a fantasy geek; less ‘Game of Thrones’, more ‘Penny Dreadful’ kind
- have enough deep-seated parental issues to have a taste for family dramas
- are suffering from a serious case of existential ennui
- thrive on the self-indulgent and philosophically chaotic works such as the exemplary The Tree of Life or the more recent Under My Skin
- are all of the above
Lost River tells the macabre tale of a struggling single mother played by Christina Hendricks of Mad Men stardom, who is drawn into the dark, obscure underbelly of a disappearing town after being offered a job at a burlesque-themed club. Meanwhile, her eldest son, left to care for his brother in the absence of their mother, gets in trouble with the town bully (Doctor Who’s Matt Brown) and discovers a road leading underwater to submerged towns.Freaky.
Opening at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, the filmmet with extremely unfavourable reviews. Seriously, it is unlikely you will stumble onto a review that is not disposed to magnifying its faults and assuming a stubbornly one-sided stance. Andboy, can critics be mean. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian called the film ‘ridiculous and fatuous but often ingenious’ while Robbie Collin of The Telegraph made a particularly vicious remark drawing a crude comparison between Gosling’s film-making and ‘assembling Tumblr of David Lynch & Mario Bava gifs’
Ryan Gosling whose spirit remained undeterred in the face of harsh criticism, spoke in defense of the film:
“I think it’s great. What’s great about films is that you don’t have to like them. It’s up to you what you think of it – not everyone’s supposed to have one experience. You can have a bad experience, that’s fine. You can watch it later and have a good experience, and vice versa…They [audience] have their own life and they find what they want to find. At least people are having an experience – and that’s all you can hope for.”
It would be stubborn, further conceited, not to agree with him on this one.
The film is set for a limited release in April 2015 and if the trailer is anything to go by, if not much else, Lost River is going to be visually stunning. The chromatic two and a half minute clip, set to a hazy dream pop soundtrack, is brimming with style and eloquence. The characters, afflicted with isolation and distanced from each other by circumstance and their own polarity, seem compelling and it would be interesting to see how they come together, for better or for worse. The scope for speculation is narrow to comment further on Gosling’s directorial venture but from the visual delight that was the trailer of Lost River it is fair to expect a dazzling and fantastical experience.
Watch it here:
By Mahima Verma