Lost River

A single mother is swept into a dark underworld, while her teenage son discovers a road that leads him to a secret underwater town.


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  • ★★★★½ review by Eli Hayes on Letterboxd

    Literal and metaphorical underworlds run parallel in this abstract work of expressionist cinema, as you follow the poverty and downward spiral of a single mother and her eldest son struggling to maintain payments for their home in a disintegrating American town.

    But Lost River, being an expressionist film, isn't really about the story so much as its about capturing the emotions and experiences of the characters through sensory details, utilization of vibrant colors and a strong, tense atmosphere; it's an audio-visual experience in the same vein, aesthetically, as films like Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers and Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives.

    Of course, Benoit Debie shot both this and Spring Breakers so it would make sense why there would be some visual overlap (seeing as Debie is one of the few working cinematographers who I would describe as a non-directorial auteur). Aside from being a display of cinematographic and compositional brilliance, Lost River marks the emergence of a new director with a style that I can get behind.

    There are films which are derivative in a bad way and pay no respect to the works that inspired them, and then there are films which are derivative in a respectful and knowledgeable manner, where control over the craft is apparent and an homage is being paid to preceding works. Lost River, while in many ways unique in its own right, undoubtedly falls into the latter category.

    With an incredible score, fierce neon hues, surreal macabre theater, a pair of outlandish antagonists and a darkly magical use of allegory, I can safely deem Lost River unfairly maligned.

    PS: character MVP, for me,

    goes to Rat (Saoirse Ronan).

  • ★★★½ review by Evan on Letterboxd

    It appears that we have another Only God Forgives situation on our hands. I find it funny because I pretty much hated Only God Forgives, but I quite liked Lost River.

    Considering this is Ryan Gosling's first film; he hasn't even done so much as a short film (as far as I'm aware). I am very impressed. The cinematography and the sound track were the highlights for me. The characters were pretty shallow and the writing could have been better, but other than that I have no other real complaints. The story itself is pretty much about achieving The American Dream. Been there done that right? Not so much. We've seen it before, but never like this. Lost River is certainly a very captivating and hypnotic film.

    There's a lot to admire with Ryan Gosling's debut film and it won't surprise me if I come to love this film after another watch or two.

  • ★★★½ review by brat pitt on Letterboxd

    need me a freak like ryan gosling

  • ★★★★½ review by SilentDawn on Letterboxd

    Narrative missteps and some pacing issues came to light after this third viewing, but honestly, it doesn't detract much from the experience. A lullaby that slowly morphs into a nightmare; Lost River is a masterful poem of style and horrific memories.

  • ★★★½ review by Christina on Letterboxd

    I feel a rewatch or even a couple of rewatches is definitely needed for Lost River, I feel alittle unsatisfied and confused as to what I just watched. The first 30 minutes I kept saying to myself "What is going on?" As the movie continued it did proceed to get better with some elements of surprise and interesting scenes to keep me from not wanting to shut it off. Ryan Gosling took an exceedingly long jump into the artsy world of cinema and created something beautiful and draining, but what did it all mean? I mean there's one thing for a film to look good and to have actors play their part accordingly, but the storyline kept jumping and I felt it didn't follow through half the time.

    Lost River is a visually dark fairy tale into the lives of Billy (Christina Hendricks) and her two sons, showing us their world living in poverty having to deal with the menaces of every day life. Having to make a choice to stay in Lost River, Billy decides to take a job in the dark underworld where people are the show of doing macabre things as a way of entertainment. In the meantime, Rat (Saoirse Ronan) tells Bones (Iain De Caestecker) of this secret underground town where if something from that town is brought back to the surface the spell in which the river is cursed, will be broken.

    All in all, it is a strong movie, it has it's moments. The music isn't constant and you get to appreciate the silence behind the scenic aspects of the town of Lost River.

    Yeah, I need to watch this again.

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