Last year Only God Forgives, Nicholas Winding Refn's movie starring Ryan Gosling, was booed at Cannes. This year, Gosling, there with his directorial debut Lost River is not doing much better.
Lost River stars Mad Men's Christina Hendricks, Agents of SHIELD's Iain De Caestecker, and Doctor Who's Matt Smith as the residents of a broken down city, and though the film drawing comparisons to Refn and David Lynch, it's not exactly receiving a swath of acclaim.
Some of the initial tweets from critics were damning. Grantland's Wesley Morris unleashed this particular gut shot: "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." Variety's Scott Foundas said that it's "a first-rate folie de grandeur. Echoes of Argento, Korine, Lynch, Malick in a tedious allegory of Detroit as ghost town."
Not all of the full reviews were quite that cruel though. Even in his two-star review, The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw threw Gosling a bone. "Its faults are huge: its virtues less so - but they are there. Gosling has energy and appetite," he wrote. "There is a delirious buzz to the drama. It is often ridiculous and fatuous but often ingenious. It could yet be that Gosling will mature as a director." HitFix's Drew McWeeny noted in his take that Lost River only made it to Cannes because of Gosling. "If this had been a script by some young writer and he had just gone out trying to find the money for it, he would be sitting at home right now, watching the coverage of Cannes from a distance, upset that no one recognized his own brilliance," he explained. "It is a first film and it shows." Still, McWeeny said he is "sincerely look forward to whatever's next."
Still, the widespread critical scorn will likely sting. Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter said it has "a visual and aural sensory bath that shows some real flair but feels madly derivative at every moment." The Telegraph's Robbie Collin enumerated Gosling's influences. "The problem is, it’s like everything Ryan Gosling’s seen: David Lynch, Mario Bava, Nicolas Winding Refn, Terence Malick, Gaspar Noé and a splash of David Cronenberg for good measure," he wrote. "But these filmmakers’ ideas and imagery aren’t developed, they’re simply reproduced: think Wikipedia essay rather than love letter." Collin also called the movie "mouth-dryingly lousy."
It would take a lot for someone with Ryan Gosling's life to have a bad day on the French Riviera. "Mouth-dryingly lousy" might just do it.