Lost River should've been Ryan Gosling's opportunity to step out of the spotlight and behind the scenes, a chance to flex his muscle as an auteur – not just a silent, toothpick chewing hunk with something on his mind. It's said to owe a lot to the style of Nicolas Winding Refn (which isn't a surprise given that Refn directed signature Gosling hits Drive and Only God Forgives) and is inspired by Detroit, a city teetering on the edge of extinction.
"I drew from the 80s family fantasy films that I grew up with and filtered them through the sensibilities about film I've acquired since," said Gosling. "With that, Lost River began to take shape for me in the form of a dark fairytale with the city itself as the damsel in distress and the characters as broken pieces of a dream, trying to put themselves back together."
Dreamy and confident that may sound, but a lot of critics went to see it today at Cannes and said it was ABSOLUTELY RUBBISH. The queues were huge to get into the screenings, but it would appear that most believe it to have been time misspent. "Cannes so far lacks a film-maudit crapocalypse. LOST RIVER just supplied it. All Gosling's pet Lynch films, filtered through Refnvision," said Tim Robey, the Telegraph's film critic. Others weren't kind either:
If a $200 haircut and $900 shades were given lots of money to defecate on Detroit, the result would be Ryan Gosling's directing debut.— Wesley Morris (@Wesley_Morris) May 20, 2014
Ryan Gosling's directing debut: let's see God forgive this...— Jonathan Romney (@JonathanRomney) May 20, 2014
Gosling shouldn't be too downhearted; making the transition from cult heartthrob to respected director isn't easy. When Marlon Brando released his 1961 directorial debut, One Eyed Jacks, The New York Times said: "It is curiously surrounded by elements of creamed-cliché romance and a kind of pictorial extravagance that you usually see in South Sea island films."
Also, Ryan, if you're reading, take heart from the fact that when Nicolas Cage stepped behind the camera and directed 2002's Sonny, he received an avalanche of bad mouthing. The New York Times (does it have a grudge against actor-turned-directors?) said it "feels aimless and awkward. Some moments have a creepy, sleazy intensity, in particular the scenes of Sonny at work, which unfold in an atmosphere of titillation and dread. The whole thing is emotionally incoherent."
Watch a trailer for Lost River below – to us it feels like the start of a Die Antwoord video.