Lost River (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ryan Gosling|
|Written by||Ryan Gosling|
|Music by||Johnny Jewel|
|Edited by||Nico Leunen|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
Lost River is a 2014 American fantasy-neo-noir film written, produced and directed by Ryan Gosling, in his directorial debut. The film stars Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Barbara Steele, and Eva Mendes. Principal photography began in Detroit on May 6, 2013. The film premiered in competition in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was released in the United States on April 10, 2015.
Single mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives in a rundown Detroit neighborhood with her two sons, Bones (Iain De Caestecker) and little Franky. Billy and Bones both love Franky but are fairly distant from each other. In his spare time, Bones salvages copper piping from abandoned houses in town while trying to avoid a vicious local criminal named Bully (Matt Smith), who has claimed the copper piping for himself. One day, Bully catches Bones taking copper piping, which Bones abandons and flees. Later, Bones reclaims the stolen piping from Bully's hiding place and manages to escape from Bully's sidekick, Face. Billy, meanwhile, meets with a banker, Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), regarding a loan that the previous bank manager talked her into so that she could stay in the home, which originally belonged to her grandmother. Since Billy is unemployed, she is unable to repay the bank and must begin searching for a job in order to pay for the house. Dave gives her his business card and offers her a job, leaving out the details of what it is.
A construction crew begins tearing down the vacant houses in the neighborhood. One man spray-paints a "D" on Billy's house, indicating that their loan is in default and it will be torn down if she is unable to pay off the loan. The family's neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), who lives with her grandmother (Barbara Steele) and her pet rat Nick, sings a melancholic tune about someone loving her. Her grandmother repeatedly watches her old wedding video, unable to deal with the loss of her husband who died while constructing a dam. Bones discovers an old road that is overgrown and leads under a lake. While hanging out with Rat, Bones learns that there used to be a town that was flooded when a reservoir was built, hence the name "Lost River". Rat mentions having a video of it that her grandmother has kept for years. She notes that the only way to break the "curse" that is plaguing Lost River is to capture a "beast" from underwater and bring it to the surface. Billy is taken by a friendly cab driver to a burlesque studio downtown. She enters among the crowded audience to see a show put on by the main performer, Cat (Eva Mendes). The appeal of the show is a realistically gory murder show where Cat gets stabbed multiple times and has her "blood" spray all over the delighted audience. Billy goes backstage and meets with Cat who shows her where the real money is made; in the basement. Down there, women will stand in locked plastic "shells" while men do whatever they want in their presence.
Rat invites Bones out for "a night on the town." They go dancing at an abandoned high school and intimate that they would leave town together if it came to that. Later, they go out to a gas station store and run into Bully with his henchman Face, whose lips were cut off by Bully after he let Bones get away, leaving him horribly disfigured. Bones hides from Bully as he starts to talk to Rat. To protect Bones, Rat accepts Bully's offer to give her a ride home. Bully walks Rat to her front door and asks her if he can see her pet rat, Nick. He grabs the rat and viciously kills it in front of her.
Billy has had to take Franky to work with her since Bones was out with Rat. For her performance, Billy makes it look like she's cutting off her face, which excites the audience. She later sits with Dave, who hosts the joint. He disapproves of her having her son there, and then he sings a song to the audience. He takes her home and makes a pass at her but stops when he sees Bones standing outside of the car. Later, Billy breaks down in tears over her increasingly difficult situation.
Bones drops Billy off at work and sees what she has been doing to make money for him and his brother. Unable to help her financial situation anymore by stealing copper pipe, Bones decides he is going to break the aforementioned "curse." He leaves Franky with Rat and goes into the river to cut off the head of a dinosaur statue from an old children's park. Meanwhile, Face enters Rat's home and sets it on fire with her grandmother still there. He goes down in the flames as Rat goes to find her grandmother. Rat is unable to rouse her grandmother from her catatonia but she gets Franky away from the fire. Having succeeded in cutting off the dinosaur's head, Bones comes ashore to find his car has been set on fire. Bully tries to run Bones over with his car but at the last moment, Bones steps out of the way and hurls the dinosaur head at Bully's windshield, causing him to crash against the burning car. Bully is thrown from his car, ends up stuck head first in the water, and drowns.
At work, Billy is sealed in a "shell" while Dave performs a sexual dance routine around her. Despite having a button that locks the shell from the inside, Dave has a remote that releases the lock. She is let out of the chamber and she stabs Dave in the ear, leaving him to bleed out. Billy returns to find her sons and Rat sitting on the steps of their home while Rat's house continues to burn. With the help of the cab driver, the four of them run away and leave Lost River behind them.
- Christina Hendricks as Billy
- Iain De Caestecker as Bones
- Saoirse Ronan as Rat
- Matt Smith as Bully
- Ben Mendelsohn as Dave
- Eva Mendes as Cat
- Reda Kateb as Cab Driver
- Barbara Steele as Grandma
- Torrey Wigfield as Face
- Rob Zabrecky as MC
The first official tease of the film's music came on February 3, 2015 when Chromatics issued a single for their song, "Yes (Love Theme from Lost River)," which is featured in the film. Jewel released the soundtrack album on his own label, Italians Do It Better, on March 30, 2015. The soundtrack features music from the score, as well as songs from the film by Glass Candy, Chromatics, Desire, and Symmetry, as well as songs sung by Saoirse Ronan and Ben Mendelsohn, who star in the film. The song 'Tell Me', sung by Ronan, was featured in the first episode of the 2017 television series Riverdale. The soundtrack was released on CD, digitally, and as a limited 3xLP on purple vinyl.
The film premiered on May 20, 2014, at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was met with both boos and cheers by the audience. Warner Bros. Pictures, the U.S. distributor of the film, was subsequently reported to be considering selling its distribution rights to another studio. On December 30, 2014, Warner Bros. announced that Lost River would have a limited release in early 2015, and debut simultaneously on video on demand platforms.
Lost River received mixed reviews at the time of its release. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 30%, based on 69 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Lost River suggests that debuting writer-director Ryan Gosling may have a bright future as a filmmaker, but it doesn't hold together well enough to recommend on its own merit." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 42 out of 100, based on 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian stated that the film is "colossally indulgent, shapeless, often fantastically and unthinkingly offensive and at all times insufferably conceited". Kate Muir of The Sunday Times indicated that "Ryan Gosling's Lost River is a lurid mash up of Lynch, Refn and Edward Hopper. In a bad way." Robbie Collin of The Telegraph called the film "dumbfoundingly poor" and stated that Gosling "confuses 'making film' with 'assembling Tumblr of David Lynch & Mario Bava gifs'".
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This is the first film this year where I heard boos, but to be fair there were some cheers mixed in. One wag called it 'choos'.
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