Ryan Gosling Directorial Debut Leads to Critical Drubbing at Cannes

Ryan Gosling Directing Lost River

Ryan Gosling’s gonzo directorial debut “Lost River” provided this year’s Cannes Festival with some of its most memorable WTF moments.

In the aftermath of its Tuesday screening, Critics beat a fast path to Twitter to spread vitriol, disbelief and, in a few rare instances, praise for a film that is partially set in an underwater city. It’s a trippy tale that owes debts to David Lynch and Gosling’s “Drive” director Nicolas Winding Refn and reportedly premiered to boos and a dollop of applause.

The film stars Christina Hendricks, Eva Mendes and Matt Smith and sounds as if it may permanently expunge Gosling’s “Mickey Mouse Club” legacy.

Variety’s Justin Chang excoriated the film, comparing it to a train-wreck, while writing, “Had Terrence Malick and David Lynch somehow conceived an artistic love-child together, only to see it get kidnapped, strangled and repeatedly kicked in the face by Nicolas Winding Refn, the results might look and sound something like ‘Lost River,’ a risible slab of Detroit gothic that marks an altogether inauspicious writing-directing debut for Ryan Gosling.”

Chang’s Variety cohort Scott Foundas also found the film to be a yawn, tweeting, “Gosling’s LOST RIVER a first-rate folie de grandeur. Echoes of Argento, Korine, Lynch, Malick in a tedious allegory of Detroit as ghost town.”

Grantland’s Wesley Morris was left reaching for scatological metaphors to describe the execrable results of Gosling’s slide behind the camera, tweeting, “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.”

Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian branded the film a “conceited clunker,” tweeting, “Just think. If Ryan Gosling hadn’t been such a star actor, he’d never have been allowed to direct *stares into space, screams* .” He went on to write that his review would post later — a moment that Team Gosling no doubt looks forward to with bated breath.

Mark Adams of Screen Daily was gentler, writing, “It may well be strong on evocative imagery and a vibrant sense of danger and moodiness but Ryan Gosling’s much-hyped directorial debut turns out to be an over-cooked affair that lacks a much needed wit and humour to go alongside its self-aware art intentions.”

Freelance critic Jordan Hoffman picked up Gosling’s allusions to a certain Danish enfant terrible, tweeting, “NW Refn taught his padawan Ryan Gosling well. If you like that sort of thing you’ll like LOST RIVER. Personally, I’m mixed. .”

HitFix’s Drew McWeeny applauded Gosling for taking risks in his depiction of urban decay and economic inequality, but said the film sinks under its own ambition.

“It is a first film and it shows,” he wrote. “Gosling doesn’t stage scenes so much as he drops people into these environments, letting things linger in hopes that some profundity will emerge.”

BuzzFeed’s Alison Willmore implied the film was something of an arty mess, but handed out brownie points for trying, tweeting, “Yeah, LOST RIVER’s inchoate and indulgent, but at least Ryan Gosling’s interested in visuals and cribbing from edgier filmmakers.

The Toronto Star’s Peter Howell enjoyed elements of the film that left others fuming, tweeting, “LOST RIVER: Unholy Motors. Gosling’s Motown fantasy blitzes eye & mind. Carax/Lynch honored, audience baffled, but that’s OK. .”

Thompson on Hollywood’s Anne Thompson was downright laudatory, tweeting, “Impressive impressionistic well-wrought debut for with Lost River. Very !”

Gosling is no stranger to getting the cold shoulder on the Croisette.  “Only God Forgives,” the blood-drenched crime thriller he worked on with Refn, was critically drubbed when it screened at the festival last year. Gosling wasn’t in attendance, however, as he was enmeshed in production on “The Lost River.”

No such luck this year.

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  1. Duder NME says:

    It’s depressing that critics spew their opinions in 140 characters instead of waiting to expand their musings in a meaningful format. Twitter blurbs are gaining credence in art, and discourse suffers all the more for it.

  2. Man, is it thesaurus week or something?

  3. Street Films says:

    Can’t wait to see it

  4. TJ says:

    The single biggest thing that irks me about critics is how some of them love to hear themselves speak. If the film sucks it sucks. But I’ll instantly switch off an opinion where the critic is trying to flaunt their so-called “talents” as a writer. Grow up.

  5. Mark Rimmell says:

    Time and time again actors feel that successful appearances in front of the camera give them the talent to re create success behind the lense….Alas it is rarely so..
    I must see this ‘turkey’ or whatever people choose to call it…
    Now all of you critics cut the vitriole..

  6. Thesaurusrs says:

    It’s transparently obvious to me that Gosling is a complete poseur. It astonishes me that others can’t see it, but I guess it’s becoming more evident with time.

  7. “Celebrity” directors get all kinds of love in Hollywood. I can’t hate on them though, because it’s their path. My path is different. I feel like some of the critics were a bit harsh and seemed to vent on Gosling’s effort. Until you actually direct a film and understand the process that’s involved or actually have respect for the process, I don’t give it too much weight. Sometimes when the critics hate on peoples work, it just makes me want to watch it more. However, the audience booing??? Wow… that had to be a hard pill to swallow. Watching something you created in front of people who don’t hold their tongues is gut wrenching…

  8. Not_Scorsese says:

    Maybe the movie is terrible, maybe not. Regardless the picture will find its audience. Doesn’t sound like he set out to make another piece of Hollywood fluff but instead took risks on a vision and well, there you have it. To the critics, good luck getting your masterpiece scripts developed and put up on the big screen. Just remember, don’t get too arts y and stray outside the lines of acceptable creativity or you may feel the bitter wrath of your equally incapable peers.

  9. PETER says:

    Well, Ryan should take his shirt off again and back in front of the camera ala THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES, CRAZY STUPID LOVE, even DRIVE. Too good a profile and body to be so missed.

  10. Rose Marie Seekamp says:

    Wow! It’s as if these critics had witnessed the canonization of Donald Sterling by the Catholic Church. Such outrage at a first try. Mr. Gosling never hyped this film himself; after more than 21 years in front of a camera he wanted to attempt his own art. This I know[ he will figure it out not from such vitriolic critiques referenced above but from his own analysis and critics who construe not spew.

  11. Vondruke says:

    Hell hath no fury like a published critic who never felt they were given a chance, when they subsequently see that chance given to someone they believe to be less skilled and deserving of them; blow it.

    • sammyglick says:

      As if. Gosling is a wannabe emperor with no clothes and finally people are calling him on it, despite the fact this guy won the genetic lottery; gets paid millions and regularly dates his gorgeous co-stars. It’s about time some of these pretentious Hollywood types get taken down a few notches. The world doesn’t need another Franco or Shia.

      • ghost of bob hope says:

        sammy glick: taken down a few notches?
        how many notches down till he gets to the foul, pathetic, & stinky outhouse hole u live at the bottom of? so ‘its time’ to bring em down, eh? – you jealous, angry little mouse of a man.

        gosling has generated a lot of money for a lot people- that’s the reason he got the chance to do this odd movie- which apparently doesnt work for folks. i’m not a huge fan of the guy but what he’s done here simply DEMANDS respect from anyone who knows The Biz.

        This guy could have easily had someone procure a sure thing feel-good script or best seller & crossed out one line & added a new one to get a writing credit. Then as his first outing as director, relied on the talented craftsmen around to steer him to a solid flick.

        Instead he has the guts to come up with an original idea himself, a very strange idea too- which makes it gutsier- cuz he knows he’ll get killed. he actually follows thru & takes the thing to Cannes. my fam goes back in the biz to the silent era. i may think this flick is a turd when i see it, BUT, i couldnt have any more respect: he had a crazy vision & followed it all the way- that aint easy.

        i for one hope he continues to have the courage to do this. he WILL get better. & i’d love to see a guy like clooney try it like this… no bestsellers or big bios or writing over another’s material. just ur own idea, seen all the way thru. he can have awards.& appear a certain way but what gosling did here is another level Artistically. Very.gutsy… *sorry for length*

      • Trevor says:

        Except they are not criticizing his lifestyle, they are criticizing his movie. Pay attention to the topic.

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