The Lost City of Z: A film unable to find its way
There's some irony in an amazing story lost in a film about an amazing city lost in the jungle.
The Lost City Of Z is beautiful in parts, infuriating in others.
The focus is on real-life explorer Percival Fawcett - an inspiration for Indiana Jones - and his determination to find an ancient lost city he believes could be a key to civilisation. The key here is "explorer", not "adventurer".
This is an "evenly paced" film. The term used to be my code for "boring", but this evokes David Lean epics and Coppola's Apocalypse Now.
Yet what is essential for a quiet film - one devoid of explosions, incendiary or emotional - is to have a being of absolute charisma to front it. Someone who can tell you everything with a single look.
Charlie Hunnam is not that being.
He's pretty - far prettier and younger than the real Fawcett was at the time - but Hunnam needs action to function fully.
The mantle of lead has passed through a few hands. This was originally going to be a Brad Pitt vehicle. Later, Benedict Cumberbatch. Then it fell to Hunnam.
It doesn't help that there's too much story for one film, which covers a period of about 20 years, yet offers only glances.
In essence, the story goes: I’m off exploring, dear. I’m back. I’m going again, dear. I’m home but there’s a war on so let’s go there. I’m back from the war, dear, but I’m awfully injured. Let’s go exploring again. End.
This takes over two hours and 20 minutes. So much is jettisoned to fit the run time that it feels disjointed.
I want more. The story is fascinating. I can't help but feel that this is a story that would be better served by a mini series.
Who knows what makes Fawcett and intrepid fellow explorer Costin (Pattinson) such firm colleagues? I want to see more of these two navigate the jungle. To see more of what made them make multiple trips into 'the green desert'.
Quite a loss, since Pattinson is so good here I'm now genuinely interested in his future projects.
Sienna Miller is also great as Nina Fawcett, the independent woman who is essentially an abandoned wife while hubby explores the Amazon for years at a time.
Paired against a better actor, the dark obsession of the explorer versus his apparent light commitment to his family could have been better, well, explored.
That said, there is some beautiful imagery, especially the opera in the middle of the jungle or a moment where just parts of the jungle are lit by torches.
Christopher Spelman's score - seemingly only used in the jungle giving the city scenes a dull urban claustrophobia - stays with you.
While some scenes are just too ridiculous. The fortune teller in the First World War trenches is close to a parody.
And yet, some scenes also find their target, especially one that is still haunting weeks after viewing due to the silent, looming terror that builds throughout it.
But as a whole, The Lost City Of Z is simply unable to find its way.
MOVIE: The Lost City Of Z
STARRING: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland
WRITER/DIRECTOR: James Gray
THE SKINNY: The true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (Hunnam), who journeys into the Amazon determined to find evidence of an ancient civilisation.
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