AMAZON STUDIOS / BLEECKER STREET (2017)

 

Director: James Gray

 

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

All aboard the adventure train!

 

A contemporary classic feeling movie, The Lost City of Z follows Percy Fawcett (Hunnam), a British explorer sent to Bolivia to establish the border between the country and Brazil in order to prevent war between the two breaking out. A man with a disgraced family name, Fawcett accepts as a way of restoring his family’s reputation.

 

Accompanying Fawcett on the trip is Corporal Henry Costin (Pattinson), a quiet, reticent gentleman regarded for his knowledge of the Amazon rainforest and for sporting a fine beard.

With the help of local guides, the journey to map out the locations is met with hostility from local tribesman and the unconcerned environment and weather. Against the elements, Fawcett and co. successfully complete the mission, but not before their guide Tadjui (Pedro Coello) tells Fawcett about a mysterious gold city lost within the jungle – a story Fawcett soon learns to have some credence. Returning home to his faithful wife Nina (Miller), who has since given birth during his expedition, it isn’t long before Fawcett has silenced his doubters and secured funding from biologist James Murray (Macfadyen) for a mission to find what he calls the Lost City of Z.

 

A slow burner with an erratic narrative, The Lost City of Z makes a good fist of settling into its period setting and transporting the viewer back to the early 20th century. A beige hue envelops the picture, whether that be the saturation or the explorer’s costumes and the facial fuzz all around places us within the grand halls of upper class gentleman – it’s an undeniably British setting. It’s also a lot more thoughtful than it is exciting or riveting.

 

Hunnam delivers probably his best career performance with a complex characterization of the last great British explorer. Given a story and an act to get behind, Hunnam is allowed the flex his abilities more, though he fares better within the jungle setting then in the personal moments with his wife. Robert Pattinson also delivers as the boozy yet understated Costin, as with Hunnam, he is unshackled and allowed to act – another notch to rid himself of the Twilight saga. Ian McDiarmid pops up during this and sounds as classy as ever, with just 99% hints of the Emperor creeping through.

 

Poor Sienna Miller has the thankless task of attempting to be independent whilst being portrayed as nothing more than a baby maker delivering the goods for her ever-absent husband.

 

Fawcett’s obsession with finding Z, an obsession that threatens to push his family away, is well-crafted and believable however it impacts on the actual storytelling itself. The plot loosely jumps between beats, years pass flippantly and sometimes without mention as family life and even a chlorine gas filled conscription at the Battle of the Somme have the cloud of Z hanging over them. Fawcett literally dreams of the lost city. The trips in the jungle began to feel very long and drawn out as the explorers returned again and again, and it’s not for a want of excitement or action, they are just that bit too long with nothing to show for them – and the movie’s 140 minute runtime really began to feel like a marathon heading towards the movie’s third act.

 

There’s not an awful lot wrong with the movie, but I didn’t come out with an awful lot either. At times, the pacing and lack of on-screen events bored me and when I realised Fawcett had one more trip to make, rather than feeling triumphant that this could be the movie’s defining moment I felt dour at having to sit through the same moments that have already been. The movie looks great, it’s well acted and has a neat, poignant ending however it lost its way in the jungle during it and the momentum faltered at around half way. It lacks a certain magic needed to elevate the story and its approach and that is the movie’s greatest flaw.

 

The Lost City Of Zzzzzzz.

July 28th 2017

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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