Cannes Critics Let Down By Gosling's Debut
"Dumb-foundingly poor" and "mesmerising" are some of the comments made about Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River which has divided critics at Cannes.
The film stars Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks as Billy, a single mother of two who is dragged into a shady underworld as she struggles to pay her mortgage.
Her teenage son Bones grows close to his solitary neighbour Rat, played by Irish actress Saoirse Ronan, who lives in a ramshackle house with her mute grandmother and tells him about a curse over the town.
Doctor Who star Matt Smith plays Bully, a man-about-town who spreads terror in Lost River and likes to cut the lips off those who displease him.
Gosling took inspiration from Detroit, where he had filmed scenes for The Ides Of March, for the location of Lost River.
The once-thriving Motor City has been declared the largest bankruptcy in US history, leaving parts of the city near deserted and derelict.
"This film is a present from directors I have been lucky to work with over the past few years," Gosling, who also wrote the screenplay, said in production notes.
"As an actor, I went from films deeply anchored in reality by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine) to the imaginary world of Nicolas Winding Refn."
But critics slammed the film for its echoes of David Lynch and Winding Refn, with whom Gosling worked on Drive and Only God Forgives.
"Ryan Gosling confuses 'making film' with 'assembling Tumblr of David Lynch & Mario Bava gifs'. Dumb-foundingly poor," the Daily Telegraph's Robbie Collin tweeted.
"Lost River a cacophony of meaningless motifs stumbling round in service of a plot best summed up by 'woman decides to move house'," said Indiewire's Jessica Kiang.
But for entertainment industry observer Anne Thompson, Gosling's film was an "impressive, impressionistic, well-wrought debut".
"Gosling's Motown fantasy blitzes eye and mind," the Toronto Star's Peter Howell said.
Gosling's film is competing in the Un Certain Regard section of the film festival, which seeks to recognise new talent and encourage innovative, daring work.
The Canadian actor-director came to the French Riviera resort in 2010 to promote Blue Valentine and again in 2011 for Drive, which won the best director award.
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