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Lost River


Stars: Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Reda Kateb, Barbara Steele, Eva Mendes, Ben Mendelsohn, Landyn Stewart.

Director: Ryan Gosling

In the final analysis, Ryan Gosling’s debut as writer and director is certainly memorable but not really, I imagine, quite in the way the would-be auteur intended.

Visually, there’s much to admire, thanks in large measure to an excellent choice and use of locations to create the context for a modern-day Depression-era melodrama that at time makes The Grapes of Wrath resemble a grounded-comedy.

Gosling, aided and abetted by Benoit Debie’s atmospheric cinematography, creates a vivid and disturbing portrait of the near-abandoned city of Lost River, a locale that is rather more convincing than the melodramatic events that take place there.

Christina Hendricks works hard but, for me, fails to create a really convincing character as a single mother of two who ends up performing in a sleazy and less than credible nightclub operated by Ben Mendelsohn whose ‘stars’, among them Eva Mendes, tantalise the jaded audiences with, among other gimmicks, appearing to use a scalpel to peel the flesh from their face.

While Hendricks carries on performing in the hope of earning the money to save her childhood home, we are treated to the odd experiences of he two children, teenage Iain De Caestecker and brother Landyn Stewart, the former becoming besotted with neighbour Saoirse Ronan, known as Rat because of her devotion to her pet rodent.

Stir in self-parading local bad guy Matt Smith (So that’s where the Tardis dumped him!) who callously beheads the aforementioned rat, Cormanesque conflagrations and you end up with a movie that holds you as much out of curiosity as to what might possibly happen as to what actually occurs.

Acting is adequate and I was never bored. But when Hendricks stated, “I got it figured out”, I was jealous.

Unfortunately I hadn’t.

(Horror film completists are rewarded with the sight of cult genre star Barbara Steele in the unrewarding role of Ronan's mute grandmothe)

Alan Frank

USA 2014. UK Distributor: EntertainmentOne. Colour.
94 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Apr 2015