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Terence Nance Says If An Unknown Filmmaker Had Made ‘Lost River’ “Critics Would Love It”

Terence Nance Says If An Unknown Filmmaker Had Made 'Lost River' "Critics Would Love It"

Future cult classic? Ambitious failure? Maybe both? Ryan Gosling‘s directorial debut “Lost River” has seen no shortage of opinion around it, but perhaps none have been as bracing and direct as Terence Nance‘s breakdown of the movie at The Talkhouse. The director of “An Oversimplification Of Her Beauty” last delivered a hilarious and scathing takedown of Ridley Scott‘s “Exodus,” and while he’s critical of Gosling’s film, he ultimately notes it’s being held to an unfairly high standard.

READ MORE: Ryan Gosling & Edgar Wright Talk ‘Lost River,’ Shooting In Detroit, And Advice For First Time Filmmakers

Written as a pretend email sent to Gosling before Cannes last year, Nance offers a series of notes throughout the running time of the movie. A bulk of the pointed criticism comes from the film’s depiction of black characters, with Nance writing:

“…I have to explain to you why you gotta cut this whole motif [of characters talking to non-actor black people] out of the movie. I mean… ok. you are shooting a movie in detroit that is fictionalizing the REAL problems that poor Black people are having there. But the only Black characters are literally those same people (who are at least archetypally experiencing REAL problems) but marginalized to third tier supporting roles in which they are used as props to sell the emotional weight (or comic value) of the plight of the wealthy white actors that populate 99% of the screentime. you should cut all of these scenes with the non-actor Black key extras that are used to make the film feel “real.” 

But that aside, Nance recognizes this is Gosling’s first film and gives him the benefit of that limited experience, and perhaps not incorrectly notes that had anyone else been behind the camera, the reviews might not have been so scathing:

“…I can tell you FOR SURE that if an unknown filmmaker had put this exact cut of the film out and premiered it at Sundance or Cannes or somewhere like that, critics would love it, the reviews would be laden with… “how did he do that” and “he’s sooo formally ambitious” because he would be allowed to make the mistakes that all first time white guy feature filmmakers are allowed to make, i.e. making the movie too long, miscasting a few roles, but overall finishing something that is producorially and conceptually ambitious. 
…But, because of your fame, I can already tell that critics are assuming that you are immune to making those first time feature film mistakes that WE ALL MAKE (god knows I made them). Instead, these critics and fanboys are going to come after you like you are Stanley Kubrick or something making your 8th film from beyond the grave.”

Agree? Disagree? Let us know below. But first, here’s an interview with Ryan Gosling about the film.

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