In Ryan Gosling’s upcoming fantasy thriller Lost River (formerly titled How to Catch a Monster), Christina Hendricks plays Billy, single mother to Bones (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s Iain De Caestecker) and his younger brother. The small family is trying to stay afloat in a dilapidated town when Bones one day discovers a secret road to a magical underwater town. Doctor Who star Matt Smith, who also has a significant role, has described the film as having a “wonderful Lynch-ian quality.”
In case that synopsis hasn’t already made it apparent, Gosling’s directorial debut isn’t going to shy away from elements of surrealism. As Lost River is screening at Cannes this month, the first extract has now made its way online and shows Bones in an odd confrontation with Smith’s character, Bully, who wears a glittery open jacket and invites the audience to look at his muscles.
It’s a little unclear exactly what is going on in this clip. There are several different things on fire, and Bones seems to be unhappy about this fact. It’s possible that the graffitied building from which he’s emerging at the start of the clip is the entrance to the underwater town, but it’s anyone’s guess what’s in that bag that he’s carrying, or why the appearance of Bully was enough to make him drop it and flee. Perhaps he was just intimidated by all those muscles.
Gosling himself chose to stay behind the camera for his directing project, but Lost River nonetheless has an impressive cast that also includes Saoirse Ronan as Rat, the girl next door, and Eva Mendes as a character called Cat. Lost River certainly looks interesting, but it also seems to be targeting a specific tone that’s tough to get right and can come across as either pretentious, confusing, or a mixture of the two – if done wrong, that is.
At least we won’t have too long to wait before getting an idea of how much talent Gosling has as a writer and director. Lost River will premiere at Cannes on May 20th as part of the “Un Certain Regard” selection, and the critical response will likely help determine how many theaters it opens in upon its US release, which has not yet been set.