Just a few days ago, we began worrying that we could never write about Ryan Gosling again without mentioning T-shirts and Macaulay Culkin. Ryan Gosling news is what pays our bills, so if something new didn’t emerge from the ether soon, we’d all be trying to keep warm under a bridge somewhere. That something is our first look at the actor’s directorial debut, Lost River, which premieres this week at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie, which used to be called How to Catch a Monster, was filmed in Detroit and makes use of that city’s urban decay to a surrealist effect. It stars Christina Hendricks as a single mother of two who gets involved in a dark fantasy world, while one of her sons makes a discovery that may lead to another secret world beneath the surface. In his director’s statement, Gosling says the film, which also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Eva Mendes, Saoirse Ronan and Matt Smith, was inspired by the ’80s movies of his childhood, like Goonies, that followed children on fantastical adventures. Check out his statement below, and the clip following that.
This film was, in a lot ways, a gift from the directors I’ve been working with over the last few years. I’ve gone between acting in films completely based in reality with Derek Cianfrance to the fevered dreams of Nicolas Winding Refn. I think I’ve vacillated between these two extremes because my own sensibilities as a filmmaker lay somewhere in-between.It’s not until I had the opportunity to work on The Ides of March that I was introduced to Detroit, a place that is currently living on the border of those two realities. Although I was only there for a few days I couldn’t help but be affected by the city. It was on the verge of declaring bankruptcy. There were forty miles of abandoned neighborhoods and, within pockets of those neighborhoods, there were parents trying to raise their children on streets where houses were being burned and torn down around them. Detroit was the birthplace of the Model T, Motown and the middle class. It was, at one time, a postcard for the American Dream but now, for the families in these neighborhoods, the dream has become a nightmare. Having said that, there is still a lot of hope there. There is something very inspiring about the consciousness in Detroit. What it once was and will be again is still very much alive. I knew I had to make something there.I kept returning over the following year, trying to document some of these neighborhoods before they were torn down or destroyed and I began to think of a story that took place not in Detroit, but in Lost River, an imagined city with an imagined past. As the elements of the story began to emerge; a family losing their home, a mysterious secret beneath the surface, I drew from the 80’s family fantasy films that I grew up with and filtered them through the sensibilities about film I’ve acquired since. With that, Lost River began to take shape for me in the form of a dark fairy tale with the city itself as the damsel in distress and the characters as broken pieces of a dream, trying to put themselves back together.