Tuesday, April 21, 2015

LOST RIVER (2015)



Written & Directed By: Ryan Gosling 
Cinematography By: Benoit Debie 
 Editor: Nico Luenen & Valdis Oskarsdottir 
Music By: Johnny Jewel 


Cast: Christina Hendricks, Matt Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Barbara Steele


"Lost River" is a dark fairy tale about love, family and the fight for survival in the face of danger. In the virtually abandoned city of Lost River, Billy (Christina Hendricks), a single mother of two, is led into a macabre underworld in her quest to save her childhood home and hold her family together. Her teenage son Bones (Iain De Casestecker) discovers a mystery about the origins of Lost River that triggers his curiosity and sets into motion an unexpected journey that will test his limits and the limits of those he loves. --The film was originally called How to Catch a Monster

It’s obvious that as an actor Ryan Gosling making his directorial debut. Like many first time filmmakers you can see the cinematic influences, only here it’s obvious that some or even most are form Directors (Auteurs) he has worked with before especially Nicolas Windig Refn (DRIVE) The film isn’t as strong, subtle or powerful, as Refn’s films, but visually on par with, lots of neon used. Yet lacks the strength and oddly feels hollow. Unless the film is meant to be more interpretive then told.

The soundtrack which is excellent, is also unwavering and seems to try to speak for the characters. As there is very little dialogue and most is said with looks and scenery. Though at times is relentless. It does it's duty in setting the mood, but should only be asked to settle that task. Instead of doing the heavy lifting Though is also the strongest element other then visuals.

Apparently, When Ryan Gosling sent a text to Johnny Jewel (who created much of the film's soundtrack), outlining the influences and intended vibe of the film, Johnny's reply was "dark goonies. cool."

Watching the film is like witnessing a dream as you feel compelled to watch and continue through as you are in a trance. where you remain aware and remember all that passes especiailly the audaciousness as you are constantly amazed, by the visuals and the story feels tied together loosely and makes very little sense if you think about it for too long.

The cast is good, but the material leaves them with so little to work with at times that they look as lost or bored that they seem to try to be catching up. that only the characters played by Matt Smith and Ben Mendelsohn make an impression as they are given more to work with or at least characters so broad that they have room to do something with them to make them compelling and entertaining. Asthey seem to represent plot points more than real characters.

When it comes to Ben Medelsohn and his unhinged yet mannered performance grows on you, with his hip-hop Tourette's at times in this film. Matt Smith is the actor who I wish there was more of to round out his character and help the scenes come alive as when he is usually in a scene.

Though certainly not the film's fault. I am particularly tired of seeing actress Christina Hendricks always plays roles where essentially she is a victim. Luckily here not as violently as in the past. Still are these the only roles for an actress of her stature these days. In Other words does she choose these roles as they are the best offered? Is this her niche? Is this all there is out there, that aren't leads? It’s very disparaging that an actress who is still stunning but might be of a certain age. That these are the only types of roles, as it seems that younger actresses have vital minds but older actresses are treated like of course they know better, so if downtrodden they deserve it as they can only be saved, stay in the low rung life of the character or die. Maybe be the ex-wife or trophy wife. Or just the wife, girlfriend, And stepmother. Though I am getting off topic on a constant problem the industry acknowledged. It doesn't address.

The non-actors help to certainly ground this fantasy, fairy tale into a certain reality of hardship and relevance.

The actress who plays 'Marylou' a.k.a. 'Mama Aris' in the Gas Station scene, is in real life a nearby resident of the shooting location in Detroit, who happened to be passing the gas station when shooting was taking place. Apparently she took a liking to Matt Smith, and the two developed the scene together.

The film comes off as vain and indulgent more than deep at times. The film seems to mean well and wants to have some kind of meaning yet comes off as empty or a film that quotes philosophy rather than practice it. Maybe Director Gosling is leaving the film transparent for others to figure out. Which to a degree, Doesn’t show strong initial control behind the camera.

The film isn’t as bad as some might be lead to believe, though a bit misguided it seems at times. There is something about the film that keeps a haunted feeling throughout. Not the beautiful Train-wreck of ONLY GOD FORGIVES. But at least that film has a certain belief and strength that drives it with a certain passion. This film seems to be more at play or an experiment at heart


Grade: C-

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