Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, ‘Lost River,’ drowns at Cannes

Hey girl -- your boy Ryan Gosling isn’t having the best day.

The actor’s directorial debut, “Lost River,” was unveiled at the Cannes Film Festival on Tuesday, and let’s just say that early reviews aren’t as pretty as the actor himself.

But first: What is the 33-year-old’s film about? As it turns out, that may be anyone’s guess. As far as we can tell from the vague descriptions seeping out of the South of France, the film is set in a run-down town where a down-on-her-luck mother of two (Christina Hendricks) starts working at a sleazy nightclub. Meanwhile, her teenage son (Iain De Caestecker) pursues a relationship with a local girl (Saoirse Ronan), but the pair find themselves terrorized by a neighborhood bully (Matt Smith).

Per most critics who have seen the film, Gosling’s movie takes heavy inspiration from David Lynch -- the filmmaker known for his mind-bending, often frustratingly vague films. But Lynch isn’t the only one Gos is seeking to emulate -- in fact, says The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin, the movie feels like an amalgamation of “everything Ryan Gosling’s seen: David Lynch, Mario Bava, Nicolas Winding Refn, Terence Malick, Gaspar Noe and a splash of David Cronenberg for good measure.”


Collin, who goes on to refer to the picture as “mouth-dryingly lousy,” says the actor has delivered “a film so mind-bogglingly pleased with itself that the words ‘five stars -- a masterpiece -- Ryan Gosling’ might as well appear on the poster.”

Indeed, most reviewers seem to view “Lost River” as a vanity project.

“Everyone knows that superstar success means that you are surrounded by people who don’t say no to you,” says Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian. "['Lost River’] is colossally indulgent, shapeless, often fantastically and unthinkingly offensive and at all times insufferably conceited.”

But surely, someone must have found something to admire here? Indeed, Eric Kohn over at Indiewire was a fan of the film’s cinematography and score, though he added that the “overall shallowness of the project is especially pronounced because there’s so much to absorb among the surface ingredients.”

The question is: Will Gosling even care about the scathing reviews? Probably not. As Drew McWeeny’s HitFix points out, “commercial appeal seems to be one of the last things on his mind” as he’s chosen to star mostly in moody, often little-seen indies like “God Only Forgives” and “Lars and the Real Girl.”

So are those who peruse Gosling-themed Buzzfeed lists and rewatch “The Notebook” on HBO every weekend going to be lining up to see “Lost River”? Yeah, probably not. But even horrible reviews might not hurt Gosling’s chances of evolving into a more accomplished filmmaker.

“There’s talent enough on display here to create a measure of interest in a second Gosling feature,” points out The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy, “but one would hope that he might work with a co-screenwriter next time, forget about his favorite other directors and use a style that organically suits the subject.”