Ryan Gosling hit Cannes with his directorial debut film Lost River and it was almost universally panned by critics with only the odd one or two liking the look of the movie. Despite the fact that Gosling’s first time in the big chair did earn him a five minute standing ovation after its screening, those professional naysayers, the critics, gave the effort an overall thumbs down.
The 33 year-old Only God Forgives star learned a lot from his frequent collaborator Nicolas Winding Refn in that he wrote and directed his first feature film. Apparently he also picked up a few hints in the way of style, not only from Refn, but opinions were that he also used just a touch of David Lynch and a hint of Dario Argento.
The film’s story takes place in a formerly pristine, successful area that has fallen into a state of decay. The “apocalyptic” film was made in Detroit and at least one critic called the debut feature execrable. Gosling seems to have set out to make a film that would fall squarely into “Art House” category and in that he seems to have succeeded admirably. At least according to the critics who lined up and panned Ryan’s directorial debut.
This deliberate slamming of the actor’s first time in the hot seat is to be expected. Whether the movie had opened at Cannes or not, critics, as a rule, seem to savor having the chance to sharpen their swords when any actor dares to take over the reins as director. Especially when that particular thespian falls in the category of “fair-haired” wonder.
The Gangster Squad actor rarely puts a foot wrong in his performances. Even the slow, intimate operatic, or Leone-esque, Refn film Only God Forgives resulted in critics reacting favorably to Gosling’s portrayal of the damaged character Julien.
It may well be that Gosling got a bit carried away with the opportunity to helm a film that does not just dance on the edge of cult status but immerses itself into that territory heart and soul. Imagery from the movie’s trailer contains enough odd and disturbing moments to be memorable all on its lonesome.
On a sidenote, it doesn’t help seeing Iain De Caestecker from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. watching a flaming bicycle roll past him in the trailer. It takes a lot of self control to not start looking for Simmons or Skye, or any of the remaining agents in the television show to suddenly pop up.
Most of the critical bashing going on at Gosling’s expense seems to indicate a feeling that the star has “gotten too big for his britches.” A sort of “how dare he” attitude that indicates he should not have aimed so high in his initial efforts.
However, it is not too difficult to believe that if Ryan had instead opted for something a little less eclectic or oblique with a lot less style the same critics would still have found something to dislike about his virgin effort.
Ryan Gosling did not seem too perturbed about the fact that critics almost unanimously panned his directorial debut. It may well be that the Hollywood film star expected it. To be honest, the whole thing could have gone a lot worse. Just look at how the wolves came out to bay, or is that boo, at Ryan Reynolds’ comeback. The official Lost River trailer can be seen below sans critical backlash.
By Michael Smith