Robert Redford won the Oscar for Best Director with his first movie, the beautiful Ordinary People, and he is one of the many actors in love with the director’s chair. Charles Laughton, Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Sean Penn, Mathieu Amalric in France and Sergio Castellitto in Italy and the list could be longer.
Now it’s time for Ryan Gosling and after The Notebook, Blue Valentine and Nicolas Winding Refn’s double feature Drive and Only God Forgives, here’s Lost River. Quite a peculiar story sets in a ghost suburbs in the southern wild, where lives the beautiful Billy with her son Bones who’s in love with sweetheart Rat and in endless fight with the cruel Bully. The movie floats among a grand guignolesque nightclub, a submerged town and many useless things in the middle.
Lost River is an ambitious and nondescript movie, something that often happens to actors that fasten their destiny to directors with a strong personality. Gosling is blinded by the visual splendor of his mentor cinema, using for no apparent reasons warm colours, dilated times and framings more crooked than a kamasutra position. Storytelling blinks both eyes to David Lynch with endless references to Blue Velvet, Mulholland Drive and Wild at Heart. There’s a useless cameo of Barbara Steele, the soundtrack is let’s say inspired to Cliff Rodriguez’s Drive and strongly influenced by Goblin, the Italian band who used to work with Dario Argento during the 70’s.
River is ridiculous and grotesque and the one very lost is Christina Hendricks along with the cast. Having a camera and a script is not enough to be an “auteur” and sometimes is not even enough to be a director. And this is one of those cases.