Ryan Gosling responds to questions from the press in the context of the release of his first film as director : the Lost River. You can also read the review here !
What is it that you want to make the achievement after a dazzling career as an actor ?
There is job security ! (laughter)
This is not really a choice if direct and spontaneous. It is actually strolling in Detroit, seeing the state of this city and its inhabitants that I felt a duty to testify.
You know, there are a lot of emotions palpable, it’s very addictive and sad to just “visit” Detroit. I have made a movie that I wanted, and a universal reflection of the state of mind of these families who decide to stay.
How you came up with the idea of making this film ? What was the creative process ?
I grew up in Canada with an idea very romantic in the United States, and especially Detroit because it is a neighboring city. This is also the image of the american dream. When I went there, later, I was very surprised because it was very far from what I had imagined.
It is necessary to see the miles of abandoned districts, and sometimes families, who were trying to hang on to their homes while the nearby houses were destroyed. I wanted to make a movie : the american dream turns into a nightmare for these people.
So I started filming only a year before any of Detroit is destroyed. I have accumulated a lot of videos and rush during the tracking process. I wrote the script as of my discovery of the city.
Where did you get the idea of the myth of the sunken city that we discover during the film ?
From my childhood ! The river near me was simply the result of the creation of a dam. It made me feel extremely afraid, because, after su, I realized that I had swam over the ruins of a city. I was so haunted that I refused to take baths for a few time !
Filming Detroit, I had this impression of immersion of people who have chosen to stay rooted in a city almost ghost. I decided to bring together these two worlds in my film.
In the Lost River, there are numerous references to fairy tales : names of typical characters (Rat, Bully, nasty…), curse on the city, big bad… Why have you chosen this particular form to talk about your dreams destroyed ?
You know, there’s something quite surreal that emerges from the people who live there. They seem to be the last survivors of the planet Earth… The atmosphere that emerges is very close to the fantasy or fairy tale. It is sometimes very difficult to believe what one sees. And the people of Detroit are trying to think that it is not an economic collapse but that it comes from elsewhere.
I didn’t want to make a specific movie in Detroit, but a universal story. I wanted to tell a story from the point of view of young teenagers who have a vision very romantic what could happen to their city. A sort of curse, which makes it something important, endearing, and against which they can find a solution by themselves to break the evil spell !
Lost River has a strong dreamlike dimension and style close to the fantastic cinema. Is this a style that you wanted printed right from the start or does it emerged during the shooting ?
Yes, I knew I wanted it marked the dimension of dream that turns into nightmare. The film is happy to straddle the line between Fantasy and reality without ever falling completely into the fantastic cinema.
To stay rooted in the real, we often integrate the inhabitants, passers-by in the film, in the narrative. For example, the scene of the gas station where Matt Smith is “Bully” dance with an old lady was not in the original script. I think that this petrol station did not sell, in reality, not that of the essence ! (laughter) The fact of turn over this place has quickly create tension. People irritated him and we decided to let them enter the field, to deal with them. The actors were so good that we didn’t need to do much of anything. These are the actors who have brought the people out of Detroit to integrate them into the Lost River and its Fantasy.
The inhabitants of Detroit have brought a strong identity to my film, between reality and fantasy.
Other references will be very visible in the film : the théâtre du Grand-Guignol, or the Hell’s Coffee. Where did you get the inspiration to integrate these kind of places to the story ?
You’re right, the facade of the cabaret of the Lost River is directly inspired by the historical building of the Hell’s Café de Paris. I can think of other places such as the Death Tavern, or actually the théâtre du Grand-Guignol.
I’ve spent time in Detroit but also in the areas affected by hurricanes, and each time, the inhabitants were looking for a sort of outlet to escape the gravity of reality. In this kind of places, no one is watching you… do not judge yourself. I wanted to find a way to incorporate this dark appearance, this dimension, this darkness in my film.
We have seen many references in the Lost River : Kubrick, De Palma, David Lynch, Malick. What do you think ? Are you aware of the visibility of these references ?
Thank you but I speak more willingly of influence of the Goonies ! (laughter)
When I sent my script for the first time in my composer Johnny Jewel, I’ve said nothing. And he replied by SMS : “Dark Goonies, cool ! “. It is mainly the influences of the films of the early 80s that made me fed when I was a kid as Brisby and the Secret of NIMH. These stories tell of the lives of families threatened to live with a sort of curse, or of constant danger. I wanted to make my own version of this style which is dear to me.
The film editing has changed between the Cannes film Festival 2014 and the big outing public room. What are the changes and why ?
The initial assembly of the film consisted of a few pieces of music which I thought they had entered the public domain. I was wrong !
So I had to remove these songs from the film with the sequences on which the music was present. I tried to change the music, but it didn’t work.
I find that this final edit makes it better.
What is your view on independent cinema as well as american ? Is it important to you to defend it thanks to Lost River ?
I love independent cinema. My first film in 2001, was a film by Henry Bean, “Danny Balint” or ” The Believer “, which tells the story of a nazi jewish. I had a little ready 20 years and for me it was my most beautiful experience, very challenging, and above all, very strange. We struggled to find the audience, until in the festivals !
Subsequently, I made other bigger films without ever regain this spirit of independent film. A part of me has always wanted to come back to this genre of films, a little in the ambience of a student film, experimental.