For those wondering why the usually prolific actor Ryan Gosling was absent from the screen in 2014, the explanation is that Gosling decided to go behind the camera for the first time and make his feature directorial debut. Lost River is a surreal modern fairy tale about a teenage boy called Bones (Iain De Caestecker) who finds a river that leads to an underwater town.
Gosling’s Hollywood connections helped him to pull together a pretty impressive cast for his first outing as a filmmaker, including Doctor Who star Matt Smith as the town bully (whose name is Bully), Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) as Bones’ mother Billy, Saoirse Ronan as Rat, the girl next door, and Eva Mendes as a performer called Cat. With a well-loved and Oscar-nominated actor behind the camera, Spring Breakers cinematographer Benoît Debie at his side, a strong cast and a suitably artsy premise, Lost River seemed destined for critical praise.
The critics, however, did not oblige when Lost River debuted at Cannes Film Festival last year. Though some reviewers tried to be encouraging since it was Gosling’s first project as a director, the film was coolly received and derided for being too derivative – with David Lynch, Nicholas Winding Refn and Terence Malick brought up repeatedly as obvious influences.
The new trailer for Lost River offers slightly more information about the plot than the teaser clip that was released last year, in which the only dialogue was Smith yelling “Look at my muscles!” repeatedly while rubbing a hand over his bare torso, interspersed with various shots of things on fire. There are more things on fire in the full-length trailer and the film really does look beautiful, if nothing else.
There are some films that have been poorly received at Cannes but gone on to find fans among the wider audience, and Lost River could be just weird enough to become legitimately enjoyable. Its star power will no doubt work in its favor, as there will be Doctor Who fans who want to watch it for Smith and Gosling fans who want to watch everything he’s involved with.
At least it won’t be too hard to track down; Lost River is getting a simultaneous theatrical and VOD release and may end up on Netflix or another streaming service later this year. The trailer makes it look worth checking out, even if only as a curiosity.
Lost River releases in select theaters and on Digital HD on April 10th, 2015.