Monday, May 8, 2017

The Lost City of Z: Movie Review


A beautifully imagined film leads the audience through the jungle.
The Lost City of Z is a curiously good movie. As the movie begins it looks a lot like an average historical period drama. Taking awhile to get interesting, it tells a methodical story of British Army Col. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who is tasked by the Royal Geographical Society to survey the border between Brazil and Venezuela in the Amazon jungle. But with each scene and employing everything at their disposal, the filmmakers build it into a mesmerizing picture of survival and mystery. 2016

Directed by: James Gray

Screenplay by: James Gray
Based on the book by David Grann

Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller

While the story is interesting at its core, it’s everything around it – the cinematography, the score, and the additional layers to the central character – that make the story interesting. There’s an odd flow to the story – scenes that seemed to have been cut off before the audience gets everything out of it that we should have, and then other scenes that seem to go on long past there was ever a point to them. But after having this film stay with me for hours past viewing, there was just a lot to this story and director James Gray did his best to not venture into unnecessary territory and let the film itself – and not the story the film is telling – guide the audience.

(L to R) Charlie Hunnam as Percy Fawcett, Edward Ashley as Arthur Manley, Angus Macfadyen
as James Murray, and Robert Pattinson as Henry Costin in director James Gray’s
THE LOST CITY OF Z, an Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street release.
As Fawcett begins his adventure down the Amazon river he encounters native tribes not particularly friendly to white men, he sees evidence of an ancient civilization, and he returns to England with news of what he has found, determination to return, and a desire to not destroy, and be welcomed by, whatever they may find in their adventures.

Charlie Hunnam is fantastic as the journey-man Percy. He’s a man’s-man soldier-type, he’s also an outspoken leader who can use his charm and fortitude to get people to see things his way; he’s a man fascinated by the new discoveries of the world unfolding before him, and he’s also a smart man who will stubbornly see things his way, which isn’t always the right way. The film around Hunnam suits him well since all of these facets of his character get expanded upon as the film keeps moving forward.

A jungle scene in director James Gray’s THE LOST CITY OF Z, an Amazon Studios and Bleecker Street release.
Most of the supporting players are just that – there to support Fawcett and not much else, and this includes an almost unrecognizable Robert Pattinson in a beard and small, rounded glasses. Sienna Miller has one scene of defiance and then returns to the doting and loving wife and mother, but her role does get expanded upon as we near the destination. Tom Holland as Percy’s oldest son Jack also impresses when he finally enters the picture.

The epicness of The Lost City of Z, and the beauty of the film, and what brings everything together is the cinematography and score. From rafting down the Amazon to World War I and ultimately to Percy’s fate, this is a beautifully, exquisitely and creatively imagined film. What makes the story of Percy Fawcett great is how it’s told and it ends up leaving its mark.
Best of 2017