Heading into Lost River, I was expecting nothing. Many reviews had trashed Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut — a movie that changed names (from “How to Catch a Monster”), supposedly after one of the film’s child actors couldn’t nail a line. This movie seemed doomed from the start, but I gave it a chance anyway.
I’m glad I did. Lost River is weird and dreamlike and fully reminiscent of David Lynch movies. And not in a way that makes them feel like ripoffs, either; to me, Lost River felt like it honored Lynch’s weirdness and made that weirdness its own. Not nearly enough movies released today make you feel weird, which is a big plus for Lost River.
Its story isn’t anything special; in fact, I’m sure I won’t remember much about in a few months. What I will remember, though, is its tone and vibe and feel. It’s an atmospheric experience, and one that far exceeded any expectations I had of it.
I don’t know if Ryan Gosling will hop behind the camera again; he has no upcoming directorial credits listed on IMDb as of today. But I really hope he does, because he conveys this story in a beautifully spooky way. As for Ryan Gosling the writer, I’m less than sold. Lost River’s story is fine, but nothing special. But it’s worth watching — and worth your time — for the way it’s told.