Ryan Gosling: the next actor turned director to watch out for?

"The Ides of March" Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals

HOLLYWOOD ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK: A few days ago at the Cannes Film Festival, A list actor Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River (which was originally titled by him as the more compelling How To Catch a Monster) screened to a rather divisive response from critics. Some praised his skill behind the camera and the way he worked in many influences from other filmmakers, while others panned the movie for being derivative and an imitation of better works. That more or less takes the film out of major awards contention, but it does leave me still contemplating Gosling’s future as a director. He may not have hit a home run his first time out, but very few actors turned directors do. My hunch is that he’s a few years away from making a flick that really wows folks.

Why do I think that? Look at other A-listers who stepped behind the camera. George Clooney’s debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind wasn’t rapturously received either, but his next outing was Good Night and Good Luck, which was nominated for Best Picture and got Clooney a handful of nominations himself. For another example, look at Angelina Jolie. She made her debut with the foreign war flick In the Land of Blood and Honey, but this year she’s back with the Oscar frontrunner Unbroken. Gosling certainly wouldn’t be the first to have his sophomore feature be the one that’s really embraced. In fact, it seems to almost be the path of choice for many of his colleagues. Get a perhaps overly ambitious debut out of the way first and then go hit him with something a bit more accessible the next time out.

If you look at the filmmakers that Gosling is apparently referencing, you can see that he’s only beginning to develop his own filmmaking identity. If you mix the work of Derek Cianfrance, David Lynch, Gaspar Noe, and Nicolas Winding Refn, you’re bound to get something rather off the beaten path. Now that he’s basically thrown everything at the wall to see what stuck, he’s got the opportunity to show off his own vision next time out. If not, he can even just begin to figure out which influences to play up and which ones to sort of keep on the back burner.

Right now, Lost River is probably little more than a curiosity, but it’s the start of something. There’s no way of knowing what Gosling’s career as a writer and director will hold, but I’m bullish on his potential. How could you not be? Gosling is one of the best actors of this generation, so he should be afforded every opportunity to become one of the best multi-hyphenates of his generation as well.

Maybe Lost River will shock everyone and take an award when Cannes wraps up. That likely won’t happen, but I’m sure this isn’t the last that we’ll speak of Gosling’s debut. Moreover, this is far from the last that we’ll be hearing about Gosling as a filmmaker, so stay tuned for much more on him. He’s got a bright future ahead, you can count on that…

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He also contributes to several other film-related websites.

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