Lost River (2014)

Lost River
Director: Ryan Gosling
Writer: Ryan Gosling
Cast: Christina Hendricks, Iain De Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 30.4.2015
[Reviews by Maynard and cornholio.]

Billy (Christina Hendricks) lives alone with her two kids in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. When he’s not busy dreaming about his neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan), Billy’s older son Bones (Iain De Caestecker) tries to support them by stealing copper from the empty houses around them, which draws the ire of local thug (Matt Smith) who claims all the copper for himself. Threatened by foreclosure, Billy accepts a job offer from Dave (Ben Mendelsohn), her bank manager who has a little business at the side at a strange night club.

Lost River is not a perfect film. But it is an enchanting, strong debut that I won’t mind watching again.


The German word for crazy is “verrückt”. It literally means displaced, moved a little to the side – and that’s exactly the vibe this film gives off. Everything is a little off-kilter, a little strange, a little out there. Is it fantastic? Is it just weird? You can’t really be sure. But it makes the film a little hazy and a little magical itself.

Gosling plays masterfully with that mysterious atmosphere, creating strong images that could come directly out of a dream and overlaid with a really wonderful soundtrack that supports and shapes the images. [This sounds like the soundtrack was a bra. I’d say it’s ok to think of it that way.] This is most obvious with the scenes in the club Billy starts to work at, but it’s true for the entire film.

Lost_River1Sometimes though the film gets away from Gosling. There are distinct lengths and I don’t know if I wouldn’t have liked a bit more substantial reality instead of ethereal atmosphere every once in a while, although the film is not without realism and its social criticismis pretty harsh, once uncovered. The characters feel a little flat at times. But since I really liked the characters, especially Billy, and since the cast was really excellent, that flatness can be forgiven.

It’s a film you have to be able to fall into. If you don’t, you’ll remain bewildered by most of it and bored by the rest. But if you can, it’s akin to floating through somebody else’s dream. And I for one really enjoy that.

Lost_River2Summarizing: Give it a go.

6 thoughts on “Lost River (2014)

  1. Thanks to yesterday’s rain I finally managed to watch it, with mixed feelings unfortunately.

    I deeply regret not having been able to watch it in cinema, I am convinced that would have been the better option, but well, you know, work. I do consider trying to watch it again, if the chance ever comes back, as for some reason the sound was really low, as in, no matter how much we put up the volume, it was barely possible to understand, and I also felt like the soundtrack was not intensifying anything so that did not make me happy at all.

    I did adore the images though, and the colours, and the settings, they were amazing. Still, the first three quarters of an hour felt quite exhausting to watch, then towards the end it worked much better and felt enthralling.

    Displaced/dreamlike are definitely the right words. As said, mixed feelings, I am glad I finally watched it but it was on the wrong screen. (And yes I do now wonder if I should have invested three times the money for the BR instead of the DVD, well, too late.)

    • I know that in our group of people, opinions were pretty divided about this one. Maynard didn’t like it at all, if I recall correctly and I probably liked it best from all of us. So, it’s probably a more divisive film than others.

      But I think that seeing it on the big screen and with good sound is probably a factor that works in favor of the film.

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