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Lost River (2015) – Review

Let’s go down to that town,” said Rat to Bones.

When seeing promotional material of Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River (originally titled How to Catch A Monster), one might think it’s a sequel to Nicolas Winding-Refn’s Only God Forgives, in which Gosling took a role. There’s plenty of similarity in visuals and artsy quality; as well as its tendency of being divisive. 

Gosling went a way too far in his debut. He got all the idea by combining a bitter drama with a creepy fantasy tale then flooding it with plenty of poetical imagery that looks bedazzling and beautiful but feels empty, as well as presenting many stylish characters with all sub-plot that might never conclude to each other. What he didn’t get there was patience and care to wrap them up altogether into an entity.

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As much as it looked dream-like or surreal—as if Gosling tried to reenact Jodorowsky, Lost River got a real plot to follow.  Everything’s tangled in a dead city where not much people live there anymore. Billy (Hendricks) is a single mother living with two sons; living with debt and desperation, she decided to accept job from Dave, a cynical bank manager (Mendelsohn), in a beyond-belief fetish club.

Meanwhile, her teenage son, Bones (de Caestecker) started to loot copper from all around the abandoned city to support his family; only to find himself confronting a thug who rules over the city, Bully (Matt Smith). In the same time, he began to find solace from a neighbor girl, Rat (Ronan) who tells him a secret about Lost River.

LostRiver01 “Style over substance” that might be a popular term to describe Lost River perfectly. Gosling got the idea; Gosling got the talents; Gosling got the visions; Gosling only failed to give meaning to all he got. It’s difficult to find correlation between each beautiful imagery with the could-be-more plot or each superb performance by the talents with empty characterization. There, he could not bridge his wannabe vision to audience’s want-to-see vision—even if it looked artsy, it felt as empty.

Winding-Refn might be a mentor to enhance his visual candor, but a more substance-based mentor is all Gosling needs to bridge his vision. Lost River is brilliant as a directorial debut, but not a debut we want to see from Gosling. Though, with guts to risk everything to make a bigger-than-life visual parade debut, he probably gets the future.

VERDICT: Mesmerizing and puzzling, but empty.

Lost River (2015)

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Drama, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller Written & Directed by: Ryan Gosling Starred by: Christina Hendricks, Iain de Caestecker, Saoirse Ronan, Matt Smith, Ben Mendelsohn Running Time: 95 mins Rated R for disturbing violent images, language and some sexual content

IMDb | Official Site


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Sedari melihat materi promosional film debut penyutradaraan Ryan Gosling, Lost River (sebelumnya How to Catch A Monster), orang pasti berpikir bahwa ini mungkin saja sekuel Only God Forgives, yang juga diperankan Gosling. Banyak persamaan visual dan atmosfer artsy di dalamnya, termasuk tendensi menjadi film super divisive.

Gosling melangkah terlalu jauh dalam debutnya. Ia menggabungkan sebuah drama yang pahit dengan kisah fantasi yang mengerikan kemudian membanjirinya dengan berbagai imaji puitis yang nampak indah namun terasa kosong. Ditambah lagi, ia menampilkan banyak karakter yang stylish dengan berbagai sub-plot yang tak pernah terselesaikan. Gosling hanya kurang punya kesabaran untuk merangkai semua materinya itu menjadi satu entitas.

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Terlihat sangat surreal memang—Gosling seolah berusaha menghadirkan kembali film-film Jodorowsky. Namun, Lost River sebenarnya bisa diikuti. Bersetting di sebuah kota mati, Billy (Hendricks)—orang tua tunggal dengan dua orang anak laki-laki—hidup dalam hutang dan penderitaan. Ia akhirnya menerima pekerjaan dari seorang manajer bank (Mendelsohn) dalam sebuah klub fetish yang aneh.

Sementara itu, anak remajanya, Bones (de Caestecker) mulai memunguti tembaga untuk menghidupi keluarganya. Namun, ia malah bermasalah dengan Bully (Smith), berandal yang menguasai kota. Pada saat yang bersamaan, ia menjalin kedekatan dengan tetangganya, Rat (Ronan), yang menceritakannya rahasia tentang Lost River.

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Style over substance” adalah istilah yang tepat untuk menggambarkan Lost River. Sulit untuk menemukan korelasi antara imaji-imaji yang indah sekaligus membingungkan dengan plot ataupun karakterisasi. Gosling gagal menjembatani visinya dengan visi yang ingin dilihat penonton karena meskipun terlihat artsy, Lost River sangat kosong.

Winding-Refn mungkin mentor yang pas untuk memperkuat visualisasi film, tapi Gosling lebih membutuhkan mentor yang tahu menyampaikan visinya dengan substance. Lost River tetaplah debut penyutradaraan yang cemerlang; hanya saja, bukan itu yang ingin kita lihat dari Gosling.

2 thoughts on “Lost River (2015) – Review”

  1. This is about how I felt too. I really wanted to love it, because I’m a huge fan of both De Caestecker and Ronan, but Gosling tried way to hard to emulate Refn and it did’t work.

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