May 20th, 2014
05:15 PM ET
After booing Ryan Reynolds, some of Cannes critics have given Ryan Gosling the cold shoulder, too.
The actor made his directorial debut at the film festival on Tuesday with a fantasy thriller called "Lost River." If it's anything like its teaser trailer (see below), the movie could probably also be called "Confusing River."
Gosling's project, which you probably heard about back when it was called "How to Catch A Monster," stars Christina Hendricks as a single mother who gets "swept into a dark underworld" while her son discovers a road that leads him to an underwater town. Gosling's girlfriend, Eva Mendes, also appears in the feature, along with former "Doctor Who" star Matt Smith and Saoirse Ronan.
Gosling's usually fairly well-received at Cannes, with films like "Drive" being standouts. But "Lost River," according to those who attended its "Un Certain Regard" screening, is even worse than "The Captive," which itself was pegged as even worse than the harshly criticized "Grace of Monaco." (Perhaps Gosling, Ryan Reynolds and "Grace of Monaco" star Nicole Kidman could form a Cannes 2014 support group.)
At the "Lost River" screening, the boos came first, "like an owl symphony, or a cattle crescendo," described Time magazine's film critic Richard Corliss. "Then, a smattering of defiant applause. Then, the boos again. The antiphonal response could have gone on all afternoon, with catcalls winning in a landslide, but the critics had other movies to see."
Some reactions have echoed that of Grantland's Wesley Morris.
But others, like The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw, have tried to search for the movie's strengths (even if they fail to find them). "It is colossally indulgent, shapeless, often fantastically and unthinkingly offensive and at all times insufferably conceited," Bradshaw says of the project, "yet it is frustrating precisely because it sometimes isn't so bad. There is something in there somewhere."
HitFix's Drew McWeeny agrees that there are some positive aspects to be acknowledged, but believes that if Ryan Gosling weren't Ryan Gosling, we wouldn't be talking about this movie in the first place. "It is a first film and it shows," McWeeny reviews. "'Lost River' is a beautifully dressed minor effort, a movie in which all the muscle in the world can't transform the thin, thin script into something more."
Several observers have pointed out the movie's strong David Lynch influence, and have given Gosling credit for having an interest in beautiful visuals. But on the whole? "First rate folie de grandeur," said Variety's chief film critic, Scott Foundas.
With the amount of vitriol that's poured out of Cannes since its start on May 15, you might presume that the critical press this year are just a particularly nasty bunch. Not so: at least two performances have earned raves so far, one being Marion Cotillard's in "Two Days, One Night," and the other being Steve Carell's in "Foxcatcher."
Director Bennett Miller's cast and film as a whole are "superb," praised The Hollywood Reporter, and "from the beginning, you can't take your eyes off Carell," who gives a "career-changing performance."
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