Every once in a while you see something that won’t let you go. That stays with you for days in a row. That makes you want to be quiet about. An experience that changes your perspective on (the) world. Something which is perhaps only possible through and because of art. Here an attempt to review, to speak up about one such experience. However impossible.
Beyond a review
Reviewing a book or a film is often a positioning of where, what, who – where we place it, what makes it attractive or not, who’s dunnit. A review is a judging look, an outsider who already knows how to look, looking with its own character and its flaws. No matter how objective it might seem, a review is always purely personal, an ode or a lament – but in the end always something that reviews the other, that which one is not.
Then how to review something that is so close to oneself that makes its images printed to one’s frame of mind, whether asleep or not? This is why this is not a review. There are enough reviews already of this film, almost all of them negative (see this for instance – or better not: don’t). They note that the American eye candy Ryan Gosling with the beautiful cheeks should never have tried his hands on writing and directing. Stick with acting, as that is something we love you for, they seem to be telling us.
Beyond the real
And maybe they are right. When I watched this film without previous knowledge about even the topic, I also wondered how someone could have made this film. Seeing it, experiencing it, is such an all-round experience, the impressions rough, direct, bigger than life, emotional – all kinds of words that came to me, but none of them adequately describing whatever it is I want to say, my experience that is impossible to mouth.
How could somebody have made this film?! How could Michelangelo ever make the Pièta?! How did Mondriaan even dare to put the first straight line on the canvas!
Experiencing a film like ‘Lost River’ goes beyond all these things. All things political, all ego, all the beaten paths – none seem to be given space in this film. Although it is not an abstract film, there is even a story that is quite easy to follow, nothing remains mysterious or hidden from sight.
Beyond the post-modern
And that is probably exactly what is ‘wrong’ with it, what reviewers and perhaps even the audience cannot stomach. The film is a perfect mirror of our society, our lost river of which we try to save the remains, to sell what is ours. We hold on to that which binds us to this empty world which is devoid of life, because if we let go of this that remains – what else is left for us? If a film would tell us this, perhaps the morals implied would make it bearable. But by simply showing us this – without solution, without a way out, without an easy ending that make us sit comfortably in our chairs – we are confronted with ourselves. And we are afraid.
Mario Vargas Llosa, the Nobel price winner of literature, wrote that culture is dead. We have no more art, everything has become entertainment. These things are picked up on by the media and are being thrashed as we speak. But a film like Lost River, and the way people respond to it, make that I agree with this remark by Vargas Llosa. Art has become entertainment. We only ‘like’ films that tell us what to think, when meaning is reduced to a spoonful of sugar. And because of this, we have destroyed the possibility of art as a real that breaks us free from our dull existence.
It is time to get over nihilism. Let’s experience everything, let’s keep the possibility to experience an open one. Let’s turn our backs to the self-promoting group of entertainment-media-makers. And maybe, perhaps maybe we can open our eyes every now and then. And be silent about it.
Image: movie still.