A true-life drama, centering on British explorer Col. Percival Fawcett, who disappeared while searching for a mysterious city in the Amazon in the 1920s.
‘The Lost City of Z’ is a historical adventure film about the various explorations of the British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) at the beginning of the 20th Century, a man who on three separate occasions went searching for an ancient lost city in the heart of the Amazon. The film follows Fawcett’s life through these expeditions, his spells at home before and after each trip, as well as his attempts to convince the many doubters back home of his findings. It’s a handsomely made film about a genuinely interesting piece of history, but I felt there was something lacking, particularly when it moved away from the expeditions themselves.
Criticism by comparison is often a fairly moot point in my opinion, but I couldn’t help myself thinking of last year’s ‘Embrace of the Serpent’ or Werner Herzog’s ‘Aguirre, Wrath of God’, both of which centered on attempts to discover more about the Amazonian people, its culture and its history. All three films share a similar premise and a focus on the obsessive nature at the heart of their protagonists, but I felt ‘The Lost City of Z’ never quite got to the heart of Percy Fawcett, nor the heart of what he was seeking to find. Where those films were immersive, I felt more like a curious visitor watching ‘The Lost City of Z’ than a participant in the events themselves. There are joys to be had in the film and I particularly liked Gray’s old fashioned approach to the storytelling, eschewing stylistic flourishes for a straightforward retelling of Fawcett’s adventures, and this made the one moment he delves into surrealism all the more enchanting. I also liked the performances from Hunnam and Robert Pattinson as his sidekick, and I felt Hunnam in particular did a strong job at getting at what made his character tick.
‘The Lost City of Z’ is a fine piece of filmmaking but I felt it only scratched the surface of its interesting themes, and it failed to bring its setting to life in a way that I’d hoped.
Directed By: James Gray
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Angus Macfadyen, Edward Ashley, John Sackville, Adam Bellamy and Daniel Huttlestone