THE STORY – Based on David Grann’s best-selling book of the same name, The Lost City of Z is the true-life drama which centers on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.
THE CAST – Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Tom Holland & Sienna Miller
THE TEAM – James Gray (Director/Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 140 Minutes
By Matt N.
What does it mean to be a man? Writer/Director James Gray takes a hard look at one man’s quest for purpose, legacy and how that quest ultimately destroyed what is meant to be man’s true purpose and legacy: his children. We are put on this earth to leave it better than how it was when we first arrived. We achieve this through our children. We do the best that we can in raising them and passing along our best qualities so that they can carry a semblance oh how we once were through their own lives. Colonel Percy Fawcett was so convinced that there was a lost civilization at the end of the Amazon jungle that he devoted a huge chunk of his life towards finding it. He abandoned his wife and his children for many years for what he said was to give them a better life but as James Gray’s beautiful film lingers on we start to wonder if it was for something more?
Based on the book by David Grann of the same name, “The Lost City Of Z” takes place at the beginning of the 20th century and follows military man Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) up until his mysterious disappearance in 1925. Percy Fawcett is consumed with restoring honor towards his family name and eventually sets off on a quest to discover an ancient civilization deep within the amazon jungle known as Zed, or Z. He is accompanied by Corporal Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and the journey is a difficult one, with wildlife, fever and unknown tribal Indians who mean to do the explorers harm. Leaving his wife Nina Fawcett (Sienna Miller) at home for many years at a time (As he goes on multiple trips and even off to serve in World War I at one point), Percy Fawcett eventually decides to take one final trip to find the ancient city with his eldest son Jack (Tom Holland).
“The Lost City Of Z” is a staggeringly beautiful film to look at. From the makeup (Robert Pattinson looks unrecognizable) to the period costumes and of course, the breathtaking lighting by Darius Khondji, “The Lost City Of Z” is easily Gray’s prettiest film yet. It is also his most ambitious, as he films it with an eye that honors the classical cinema of old. From “Aguirre: The Wrath Of God” to “Apocalypse Now,” the influences of those films can be felt, with an epic sweep cut from the same cloth as David Lean. James Gray truly outdoes himself here on a technical level, delivering a classic throwback being released in contemporary times where the overused phrase “They don’t make em’ like they used to” actually applies here.
James Gray casts Charlie Hunnam in the lead role of Colonel Percy Fawcett and the results are mixed. Though Hunnam gives what is surely his best performance yet, he still comes off as a one-note actor incapable of bringing a dynamic range towards his roles. This cannot be said of Robert Pattinson who has quietly become one of the better actors working today. The more he continues to take on daring and exciting projects with directors who push him to his limits, the more the cinephile crowd continues to sing his praises and that is once again on display here as Fawcett’s trusted companion Henry Costin. Tom Holland is not in the film enough to make much of an impact, although his desire to take on a project such as this bodes well for the current SpiderMan’s career as he continues to take on more work outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sienna Miller has what at first appears to be the stay at home wife/mother role as the male protagonist goes off on adventures. However, her role is in reality well written for a change and Sienna Miller makes you feel Nina Fawcett’s plight and struggle as she watches her husband leave multiple times and eventually even suck their own son into his obsession.
“The Lost City Of Z” is quite possibly James Gray’s best film yet. However, this is not a film that mass audiences are going to understand nor respond kindly to. It’s nearly two and a half hour running time feels more like three and a half as Gray’s plot moves along patiently without many jolts of excitement. It’s contemplative in its themes and is hauntingly seductive through its imagery. With those positives and negatives in mind, I have no doubt that many will get “lost” in “The Lost City Of Z.” Whether they enjoy this journey into one man’s obsession remains as much as a mystery as what befell Percy Fawcett and his son nearly a hundred years ago.
THE FINAL SCORE
THE GOOD – An absolutely gorgeous film with a classical feel from writer/director James Gray.
THE BAD – The film lacks excitement and moves at a snail’s pace