Opening 28 May 2015
The town of Lost River is a shell of its former self. Whoever could leave has done so. A few lost souls remain, either out of lack of options or, in the case of Billy, out of a desire to keep the family home where she lives with her sons: young-man Bones and small-child Franky. Bank manager Dave gives her three months to come up with the mortgage. At the same time, he gives her hope in the form of a night club job. A lonely taxi driver of one of the few remaining cars in town drives her to work and back. Bones spends his daytime hours collecting scrap metal until he is forced out of the business by bad-guy Bully, who drives through the neighborhoods in his sports car and loudly claims that he owns the town. Bones babysits Franky while his mother works nights. He becomes closer to Rat, a teenaged girl who lives next door with her grandmother.
Model for the film and also the actual film site is Detroit – that formerly boom town of the model-T, Motown, and a stable middle class, which is now bankrupt and full of abandoned neighborhoods, i.e., perfect for depicting Lost River. There is an aura of fantasy and mystery and many scenes show at night. Director Ryan Gosling calls it a “dark fairy tale.” The river, which supposedly covers a lost city and which fascinates Bones as if he expects a dragon to rise from it any moment, is, to tell the truth, not really important to the plot. Banker Dave runs the night club as his main job; daytime banking just gives him an aura of respectability, when, in fact he is out to exploit the girls. The shows combine magic and stripping under a layer of sadomasochism.
This is Gosling’s first film as director and it showed at the Cannes film festival 2014. Although it is a US film, only two actresses, Eva Mendes and Christina Hendricks, actually come from the US. All others including Gosling are from Canada, Ireland, Scotland, England, France, and Australia. All are talented in their roles, especially Ben Mendelsohn as Dave. The music (by Johnny Jewel) well underlines the action. There are added opening and final bars from the 1933 classic “Deep Purple.” (Becky Tan)