How do you solve a problem like Ryan Gosling?

There’s arguably no more popular male star right now, at least as far as social media goes. Ryan has been the subject of countless memes, from “Hey girl” to hating a certain breakfast food, and you’re not likely to find any celeb more women are crushing on and more men want to be. Basically, the world is ready to lap up anything and everything Gosling… except, um, his movies.

The Crazy Stupid Love star was a no-show at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, even though his much-anticipated Drive follow-up Only God Forgives was (arguably) the most buzzed-about movie going into the fest. However, the film didn’t exactly get a standing ovation ― it got booed by some amidst some applause. And this certainly is not the first Ryan Gosling film to be met with a cold shoulder by audiences and critics… so what gives?

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After a Ryan-free 2012, moviegoers were excited to get a triple dose of the Gos this year with the releases of Gangster Squad, The Place Beyond The Pines, and Only God Forgives. On paper, this all sounded awesome ― Ryan reuniting with the directors of some of his best roles, Blue Valentine and Drive, and a gangster movie from the director of Zombieland co-starring Sean Penn, Josh Brolin, and Emma Stone? Yes, please!

But Gangster Squad got critically panned and made only $46 million at the box office ― not great, considering it cost $60 million. The Place Beyond The Pines earned many rave reviews (as well as some lukewarm ones) and also earned over $20 million at the U.S. box office on a budget of $15 million ― enough to break even, basically, but surely not a runaway hit. It also disappointed some audience members since Ryan is a supporting piece in an ensemble that follows several different characters, even if marketing made it seem like he’d be the protagonist.

Worst of all, maybe, is the film we were expecting to be the best ― another blood-spattered action/drama from Drive director Nicholas Winding Refn. The movie sure looks gorgeous, thanks in large part to Ryan, and also intrigued us with a supporting turn by Kristin Scott Thomas as a character Refn describes as Donatella Versace meets Lady Macbeth. How could that not be good?

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Well… a full clip from the film found its way online, and if this is any indication of the rest of the film, we kind of understand how it could be booed. Ryan is dead silent throughout the scene, even when his mother makes some incredibly inappropriate comments about his new girlfriend and her own sons' genitalia. (What?!) Having a stoic protagonist is one thing, but when he’s mute even in the face of this level of insult? That might be going overboard. This guy makes his character in Drive seem like a real chatty Kathy.

Basically, this clip reminds us more of the over-the-top, envelope-pushing outrageousness of The Paperboy or even Showgirls, coming across as campy rather than compelling. (Not that we want to judge the whole movies based on just one clip… maybe it works better in context?)

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The film’s extreme violence seems not to have gone over terribly well with the Cannes audience at large, though some reviewers are heralding it as a masterpiece. Variety and The Hollywood Reporter both said it is essentially an exercise in style over substance ― not exactly surprising from the director of Drive ― and this movie was probably never going to be a $100 million hit, since it’s just too dark and offbeat to make a huge splash in the summer blockbuster pool. (Even Drive made only $35 million ― this more challenging film will probably make less.)

The fact is, Ryan Gosling has always been drawn more toward provocative material than commercial movies. While his (largely female) fan base would probably warm up to him more if he continued further down the Crazy Stupid Love path, he seems to prefer playing criminal antiheroes in independent-leaning films. Sadly, the majority of America seems to prefer watching him not eat cereal than playing these disturbed characters, but if that’s what Ryan wants to do, who are we to complain?

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Given his spotty record at the box office lately, it might be a good time for Ryan to focus on directing, He’s currently shooting How To Catch A Monster, starring Drive’s Christina Hendricks. And yeah, we’re all about that.

And let’s be honest ― boos or no boos, we’re still totally lining up for Only God Forgives when it opens July 19.

Does Only God Forgives look appealing?

Or would you rather see Ryan in more romantic comedies?

Photos Courtesy of Fameflynet