Ryan Gosling’s Directorial Debut ‘Lost River’ Draws Poor Early Reviews

Published 11 months ago by

Ryan Gosling directing How to Catch a Monster Ryan Goslings Directorial Debut Lost River Draws Poor Early Reviews

When the first clip from Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River arrived online earlier this week – featuring a shaven-headed Matt Smith yelling “Look at my muscles!” over shots of various things on fire – we noted that the film seemed to be aiming for a certain kind of surrealist tone that can be very tricky to pull off. Also starring Christina Hendricks (Mad Men), Iain De Caestecker (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Saoirse Ronan (The Host), Lost River is about a single mother who moves to a dilapidated town with her two sons and discovers that it has a dark underbelly.

It’s possible that critics just didn’t look closely enough at Smith’s muscles to appreciate the true value of Gosling’s film. Following its debut at Cannes 2014, Lost River has been met with a slew of negative reviews, and in the wake of this poor reception Warner Bros. has been trying to pass the film on to indie distributors.

Some of the reviewers were clearly trying to be kind to Gosling, excusing the film’s flaws due to the fact that it was his first project as a screenwriter and director. Digital Spy said that Lost Riverfeels more like a practice run than a true first feature,” while Film.com commented that, “when a Hollywood A-lister’s first film shoots for the stars but lands on the moon, it’s still worth being grateful.” Most of the other reviews, however, were less generous.

Matt Smith in Lost River Ryan Goslings Directorial Debut Lost River Draws Poor Early Reviews

Craig Skinner, Film Divider:

“For his debut feature as director, Ryan Gosling has created a mixtape from his favourite films, but he’s only dubbed the stylistic influences and transferred none of what made those films interesting. There are elements borrowed from David Lynch, particularly from Blue Velvet, and from Terence Malick, Dario Argento,Nicholas Winding Refn and Harmony Korine. What we have is tantamount to Gosling’s scrapbook, or an enthusiastic Instagramming session designed to show off his great taste.”

Robbie Collin, The Telegraph:

“The problem is, it’s like everything Ryan Gosling’s seen: David Lynch, Mario Bava, Nicolas Winding Refn, Terence Malick, Gaspar Noé and a splash of David Cronenberg for good measure. But these filmmakers’ ideas and imagery aren’t developed, they’re simply reproduced: think Wikipedia essay rather than love letter. The result is cinema you don’t watch so much as absent-mindedly scroll through, wondering when an idea or an image worth clicking on will finally show up.”

Keith Uhlich, Time Out:

“Hey, girl—go with what you know. Actor turned auteur Ryan Gosling’s nutty (and not in a good way) adult fairy tale is like some unholy amalgam of Nicolas Winding Refn’s black-light fantasias and Terrence Malick’s soul-searching allegories. It goes off the rails early and often. You almost have to give it props for how resolutely batshit it is. Almost.”

Still from Ryan Goslings Lost River Ryan Goslings Directorial Debut Lost River Draws Poor Early Reviews

Richard Corliss, TIME:

“Give some credit to Gosling… for his mad mashup of horror and social statement, crackpot fantasy and Sundance-style meandering. That means it wavers between the stupefying and the obscure, between LOL and WTF… It’s an oneiric hymn to destruction, an Armageddon anthem — a movie to see, if at all, under the influence.”

Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:

“It is colossally indulgent, shapeless, often fantastically and unthinkingly offensive and at all times insufferably conceited. Yet it is frustrating precisely because it sometimes isn’t so bad. There is something in there somewhere – striking images and moments, and the crazy energy of a folie de grandeur…

“Its faults are huge: its virtues less so – but they are there. Gosling has energy and appetite. There is a delirious buzz to the drama. It is often ridiculous and fatuous but often ingenious. It could yet be that Gosling will mature as a director.”

Lost River was brought to Cannes by Warner Bros. with the intention of also handling the US theatrical release, but in the wake of the film’s critical reception it looks like the studio is trying to hand off Gosling’s movie to someone else. According to Deadline, Warner Bros. is currently speaking with indie distributors about the possibility of one of them acquiring and releasing Lost River.

It’s not altogether the first successful first outing as a filmmaker that anyone’s ever had. We’ll have to wait and see whether Gosling just needs some time to develop his own style, or whether he’ll simply stick to acting in future.


Lost River does not yet have a US release date.

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  1. Maybe he shoulda have pseudonym

    • Insufferable Conceit would be a good choice.


  3. I like Gosling… I would give it a shot with a grain of salt seeing that this is his first try at screen writing and directing. pretty sure no ones first try was out right amazing…

    • On the contrary, many actors turned directors have made terrific films their first time out. A list of their top ten was at indiewire last year. Ben Affleck, Tommy Lee Jones, Sarah Polley, Ralph Fiennes, Joseph Gordon Levitt,
      Angelina Jolie, Thomas McCarthy, Diego Luna, Casey Affleck and Paddy Considine to name just ten. But given the critical reception, it could be that Gosling will make the list of all-time WORST actor-directors, so that’s something. Of course, none of those actors had a kiss a$$ chorus running on-line to make excuses for them, so maybe they felt somewhat more pressure to be good.

      • I was actually going to mention Fiennes’ Coriolanus which is amazing. Also, the bad reviews don’t convince me that this film is really bad; it may bust be weird and off-putting to critics. Critics trashed Only God Forgives but that movie turned out to be great.

      • I believe Clint Eastwood has been the best actor turned director, having gotten two best director/movie Oscars and enabling best acting nominations/wins for many of his actors.

  4. Hey girl…
    My movie is utter garbage…
    …but here is a pic of me without a shirt on.

  5. Looook, look at my muscles, look at my muscles, look at my LOOK, look at my muscles, look at my look at my muscles.

    • Lol…still got that s**** stick in your mind I see :)
      Same here…man,alone that is worth it !

      • I’m dying to find out what in the world that – and this whole movie – is about. It seems like the reviews are saying Gosling’s execution is flawed, but I think the story might worth a redbox rent, or worst, a scan of the wiki page.


        • Can only follow you there..


  6. Hey, guys. Believe it or not, there are actual non-superhero movies out there and sometimes people like to discuss those, too. Thanks for understanding.

    This is a case where the “bad” reviews are actually making me MORE interested in seeing the movie. Comparisons to Cronenberg, Lynch, and Gaspar Noe? I’ll definitely have to check this out.

    • You assume people here are reacting negatively to this negative critic reaction because they’re only interested in superhero movies?

      While I’m a big fan of those films and collect comic books, I’m also a film fan in general, ever since I saw my first ever movie at the age of 2 years old (it was a re-release of Winnie The Pooh). My school life was brilliant too because when studying ancient Greece at age 9, they showed us Clash Of The Titans, I also remember an English teacher with an Eraserhead poster in the classroom and after talking her into it, she showed us the movie.

      Just a few examples, not much but hey, this site and its membership is more than just comic book films, you know? Before you start lumping everyone in with that pretty offensive accusation. The writers here love movies and comic books, the people commenting do too so it’s natural they’ll come together as a group to discuss something they love.

      Anyway, the bad reviews here are definitely NOT making me want to watch because I saw that trailer and like with Only God Forgives, it just looked like a rambling, incoherent mess that seemed to be aiming for a certain reaction but, like Refn, fails to hit the mark.

      I also have to note that although I hated Robbie Collin for years (our opinions never matched up and he could be pretty insulting about “problems” that weren’t actual problems, like it was his gimmick to hate certain films and actors regardless if they actually deserved it or not) but after both he and Mark Kermode argued the case for the underrated and actually very good Transcendence last month, I gained a measure of respect for him.

      • That’s not what I was saying. People were obnoxiously hijacking this comments section to post spoilers and bootleg videos from the new X-Men movie. It looks like the mods came in and deleted a bunch of them. I like superhero movies as much as the next guy but ScreenRant provides plenty of opportunities for those discussions.

        Back to the topic at hand, quotes like “some unholy amalgam of Nicolas Winding Refn’s black-light fantasias and Terrence Malick’s soul-searching allegories” or “an oneiric hymn to destruction” intrigue me more than the criticisms put me off.

  7. Pretty cool!

    • Apocalypse and the 4 horsemen in the background..

      • LOL!

        Love that film by the way. Really sweet movie.

  8. Goose Link is so weird. And not in a good way either. Is he giving everyone at WB a hummer or what, because he single handedly ruined Gangster Squad with his stupid accent that the director seemed oblivious to.

  9. Seeing how these are the same reviewers that praised that abomination “Blue is the Warmest Color” I seriously doubt they know what they’re talking about.