Ryan Gosling thrills Brixton film lovers at the Ritzy

Heartthrob. Movie star. And now film director – the multi-talented and much loved Ryan Gosling paid a surprise(ish) visit to Brixton last week to promote his directorial debut Lost River. Film writer Adam Marshall was there to lay eyes on him.

Lost River Q&A with Ryan Gosling at the Ritzy Cinema Brixton
Lost River Q&A with Ryan Gosling at the Ritzy Cinema Brixton. © Juan Gil | @whatthejuan

“There are a LOT of things I’d do for Ryan Goslng” was my response when asked by the Brixton Blog’s Arts Editors if I could keep an evening free to report on his exclusive appearance at the Ritzy.

And I wasn’t the only one. The usually laid back vibe of the Brixton picturehouse was for once usurped by a feverish – mostly female – crowd, jam-packed to the rafters of the cinema’s foyer and snaking out on to Windrush Square.

Lost River was shown at the Ritzy
Lost River was shown at the Ritzy © Juan Gil | @whatthejuan

Once the masses eventually found the way to their seats in the massive main screen, Lost River – which was simultaneously being broadcast in more than 50 cinemas around the U.K. – rolled.

Gosling’s film was almost unanimously panned by critics at last year’s Cannes film festival, and for the first hour or so, it was difficult to comprehend why. While there’s no doubt that his depiction of financial crisis savaged industrial America has all the naivety of a debut feature, the first act established a genuinely intriguing rendering of the hollow death of the American dream.

He has clearly ‘borrowed’ liberally from directors he admires: vivid urban landscapes and solar flares from Terrence Malick; nightmarish tableaus and disturbing caricatures from David Lynch; effervescent neons and synth-drenched soundtrack from Nicholas Winding-Refn. But the odd bit of gentle celluloid plagiarism is far from unusual for first timers.

Ryan Gosling takes questions from the audience at the Ritzy Brixton
Ryan Gosling and Matt Smith take questions from the audience at the Ritzy Brixton © Juan Gil | @whatthejuan

But the undeniable stylish flair (shot lushly and hauntingly by cinematographer Benoît Debie) which illuminates the struggles of the central family’s economic survival – a mother (played by Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks) performing in a ghoulish burlesque club, a son stripping copper from rows of derelict homes – is unable to mask the ludicrous mess of the second half.

Lost River degenerates into a howler of a film that is confused, aimless and, the cardinal sin, boring. By the time we get to a titter inducing scene in which Ben Mendelsohn’s sinister bank manager performs a lapdance for Hendricks (yes, really), the damage has already been done. What is supposed to be menacing, is unfortunately laughable, and any notions that the film’s sinister overtones should be reinforced are way beyond repair.

But let’s be honest – this audience wasn’t there to see the new Citizen Kane. They’d gone for a glimpse of Gos. And despite the flat reaction to his film, as he mounted the stage to take part in an audience Q&A, he was predictably greeted by a chorus of applauds, whoops and piercing squeals.

Ritzy "Hands down the best" cinema said Ryan Gosling
Ritzy “hands down the best” cinema Gosling has visited © Juan Gil | @whatthejuan

He was joined by one of Lost River’s stars, Matt Smith – yes the eleventh Doctor Who. Presumably used to going nowhere without being drowned in megafan fever himself, there was no doubt that the Ritzy’s adulation was all for the film’s director.

The duo took questions from the baying audience – and were quick to please. Asked how the Ritzy compares to cinemas he’d visited around the world, Gosling confirmed that it’s “hands down the best”.

Practically dripping with cool, Gosling explained how the film reflected the deterioration of that romantic idea of the whole American Dream, and particularly towns like Detroit where Lost River was filmed. When asked about his cast, which also includes Atonement’s Saoirse Ronan, Scottish newcomer Iain De Caestecker and Gosling’s girlfriend Eva Mendes, he described them as the “dream team”.

While Smith – who explained that, when first approached for the film, he was just thrilled that Ryan knew his name – further popped the crowd by saying that he was “happy to be in my home town of Brixton”.

The screening and Q&A were both broadcast by satellite to the 50+ other cinemas around the U.K, where film buffs not lucky enough to see Gosling in the flesh could enjoy him and the Doctor on the big screen instead.

Lost River is on general cinema release now.

Written by Adam Marshall.

Lost river RG thumbs
Photo © Juan Gil | @whatthejuan



Comments are closed.