Single mother Billy lives in a rundown Detroit neighborhood with her two sons, Bones and Franky. Billy and Bones both love Franky but are fairly distant from each other. In his spare time, Bones explores the abandoned houses in town while trying to avoid a vicious local criminal named Bully.
One day, Bully catches Bones taking something from a home, which he claims to be his own property. He chases Bones away, screaming maniacally. Billy, meanwhile, meets with a banker, Dave, regarding a loan that Carl (the father of her sons) left her so that she could stay in the home, which originally belonged to her grandmother. Since Billy is unemployed, she is unable to repay the bank, and must begin searching for a job in order to pay for the house.
A construction crew begins tearing down the vacant houses in the neighborhood. One man spray-paints a D on Billy’s house, indicating that it will be torn down if she is unable to pay off the loan. We meet the family’s neighbor Rat, who lives with her grandmother and her pet rat Nick. Rat sings a melancholic tune about someone loving her. Bones takes a look underwater in the nearby river to see many discarded materials and constructions. He meets Rat, who tells him that there used to be a town that was flooded when a reservoir was built, hence the name “Lost River”.
Rat mentions having a video of it that her grandmother has kept for years. She notes that the only way to break the “curse” of the land is to get a piece of land from underwater and bring it to the surface. Billy is taken by a friendly cab driver to a burlesque studio downtown. She enters among the crowded audience to see a show put on by the main performer, Cat. The appeal of the show is a realistically gory murder show where Cat gets stabbed multiple times and has her “blood” spray all over the delighted audience. Billy goes backstage and meets with Cat, who asks her what kind of experience in performing she has.
Bones goes to Rat’s home and watches the video that features her grandmother. Later, they go out to a gas station store and encounter Bully with his henchman Face, whose lips were cut off by Bully, leaving him horribly disfigured. Bones hides from Bully as he starts to talk to Rat. To protect Bones, Rat accepts Bully’s offer when he opts to give her a ride home. He takes her home and finds Nick. He grabs the rat and viciously kills it in front of Rat.
Billy has to take Franky to work since Bones was out with Rat. For her performance, Billy makes it look like she’s cutting off her face, which excites the audience. She later sits with Dave, who hosts the joint. He disapproves of her having her son there, and then he sings a song to the audience. He takes her home and makes a pass at her. It becomes increasingly threatening when he says he likes to “f***” and that it’s a problem for him. Billy tries to talk him down, though since Dave is half-deaf, he mostly hears mumbles. The next shot shows Billy lying on the couch, crying.
Directed by: Ryan Gosling
Starring: Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, Iain De Caestecker, Matt Smith, Eva Mendes, Barbara Steele, Rob Zabrecky
Screenplay by: Ryan Gosling
Production Design by: Beth Mickle
Cinematograply by: Benoît Debie
Film Editing by: Nico Leunen, Valdís Óskarsdóttir
Costume Design by: Erin Benach
Set Decoration by: Lisa K. Sessions
Music by: Johnny Jewel
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent images, language and some sexual content.
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: April 10, 2015