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Lost River is a film written and directed by Ryan Gosling, though “Rat, Face, and Billy” could be a better title. Before lovers of The Notebook or Drive get their engines revving, they should know that Lost River does not feature the writer/director of the film. Instead, the first time director Gosling provides viewers with a twisted truth that many Americans have to live through just to keep their family home, without ever having a fan favorite to the romantic genre’s face be shown.
Over the years, there have been many towns that were flooded to make reservoirs that have never been used. This is a truth that Gosling tries to shed some light on, along with how it can be dangerous in smaller areas to strip buildings of their copper. The film is graphic to those that have never seen such films as SAW or Hostel, but tame to those who have experienced the horrors of life in general.
The film begins with a small child, possibly two to three years old, traipsing through grass that should have been trimmed years before. It soon becomes obvious that he is merely a toddler of a mother named Billy, played by Christina Hendricks, who has never had the support of the boy’s father. This buzz-cut having infant only has the yards and abandoned homes of others to play in.
Soon, viewers learn that another, older child of Billy exists, who is a teenage boy trying to scrape together enough money to leave his dilapidated existence behind. While Billy tries to help her eldest son, giving money towards the car parts he needs to leave, when she can, for her work is harder to find than a modern loan. What is truly sad for Billy, however, is that she has already applied for and was given a loan she should have never qualified for in the first place by her banker.
When Billy realizes that her loan, and childhood home will soon be the latest house to be scrapped for copper, a new bank manager shows up to offer a new job. This man’s name is Dave. Dave is the person who any American home-owner prays they will never come to owe money to. To describe what Billy’s job opportunity is, or the trials and tribulations that the characters go through to survive, would be a travesty to those who watch films that do not break box office records.
As seen in various lifestyles depicted in VICE documentaries, or in “careers” throughout the Pacific Northwest of America, scrapping homes, schools and anything available for their “precious metals” is commonplace for those unable to find gainful employment. The barely legal adult character “Bones” played by Iain De Caestecker shows this experience of life. This has led many to wonder what kind of experience Gosling himself has had to draw from.
The bottom line of the film is that as a first time writer/director, Gosling delivers. While the IMBD score of the film is lower than what is provided here, this rating takes many aspects other than a critical review into consideration. While Lost River can at times feel strange if not confusing as to the film’s genre, it still deserves an eight out of ten. Gosling should continue to write about current subjects so that the majority of the metropolis-dwelling citizens of America can know what it is like to live a true “American Existence”.
By Benjamin Johnson
Viewing of Lost River
Photo by Justus Thane – Flickr License