Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Movie Review: Lost River

In a dirty dump of a town called Lost River, single mother Billy (Christina Hendricks) struggles to provide for her two sons. People are losing their houses right and left, whether to bankruptcy or fires set by the town bully, aptly named Bully (Matt Smith). Her oldest son Bones (Iain de Caestecker) strips abandoned houses of scrap copper for some spare change, but when Bully catches him in the act, Bones becomes the next target in Bully's crosshairs. And when Bones's young neighbor Rat (Saoirse Ronan) tells him of a lost city under the reservoir, supposedly the source of the curse that afflicts Lost River, Bones seeks to break the curse once and for all. 
       Honestly, I thought this movie was going to go in a completely different direction than it did. And I think it would have been a more enjoyable movie if it had, but that's just me. The potentially sci-fi aspect of Lost River felt profoundly under-utilized, while the film lingered too long on Billy's seedy job at what I think was a bar (?). 
     I know what you're thinking—"where do you find these movies?" It has a cast I know and love; Matt Smith was, of course, the eleventh incarnation of the world's most beloved time-traveling alien in Doctor Who; Saoirse Ronan is a phenomenal young Irish actress I've seen in several previous films; and Iain de Caestecker currently plays Agent Leo Fitz on Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. So I was curious. After all, I thought the story was going to progress in an entirely different direction. 
     It was one of those artsy films where you're never 100% sure what's happening and are treated to numerous artsy shots like dandelions swaying in the wind or a house burning in the night. To be fair, the cinematography was gorgeous in this film. But other than that, it was ... strange. That's the only way to put it. The quasi-romance-mostly-friendship between Bones and Rat was endearing and definitely a redeeming quality of the film, particularly when Rat accepts a ride with Bully in order to protect Bones. But the plotline involving Billy, Bones's mother, was simply disturbing. I'm guessing it was supposed to be, and so that's fine, but ... wow. I would have been a lot happier if the film had focused on the curse of the lost town and less on the bar's (?) audience who seemed waaaaay too fascinated with fake blood. Plus, I'm not even sure if the curse was actually broken. 
Iain de Caestecker as Bones
The characterization was also a bit lacking. Saoirse Ronan's Rat stood out in terms of acting, as well as Matt Smith's psychotic, sparkly-shirt-wearing Bully. If I hadn't seen him in Doctor Who for so many years, I think I could have taken him more seriously. Bones, however, didn't really ... do much, despite being the protagonist. Bully's reason for so jealously guarding the scrap copper was left unexplained, and in regards to their conflict's resolution, it should have been clarified. 
     While the film ended on a somewhat happy note, I'm still trying to decide how to I feel about it a day later. There were aspects that were well-done, as noted previously, but the whole thing felt like one of those Oscar-nominated-artsy-movies-that-nobody-saw gone wrong. It was Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, and I think the man has a lot of potential—that being said, Lost River undoubtedly won't be his best work. 
        For reasons of Bully's cursing and general, unnecessary weirdness, I give Lost River a 7 / 10. 

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