You know what, we’ve all been very lucky this year. Yes, let’s ignore politics for a moment. Forget the looming threat of nuclear war and take a moment to reflect on the good things.
There haven’t been any good things?
Well, shut my face. Have you not been paying attention? 2017 so far has been an amazing few months of cinema – particularly March. Partly due to most of last year’s big Oscar movies being bumped over to 2017 over here in the UK, and partly because – well, who actually knows? All I care about is that I get something I can blather about on a weekly basis, if it so happens that I end up watching a good film then that’s a bonus.
That said, it seems like things are starting to dry up over at my local cinema. While the films I actually want to watch seem to be locked down to exclusively limited cinema screens many miles away from me, I’ve actually started to grope for films to watch and review. At least, I was. Desperate to watch anything that wasn’t Beauty And The Beast (2017), I ended up dragging my heels into The Lost City Of Z (2017).
Safe to say, I wasn’t expecting much.
You’d be forgiven for not really knowing much about The Lost City Of Z. Publicity for this film seemed non-existent, and the only screen I could watch this in just happened to be the smallest room I’ve ever seen in a Cineworld. This may be why the screening seemed to be populated exclusively by the hip replacement waiting list.
But I digress. Directed by James Gray, The Lost City Of Z is an adaptation of a book of the same name by David Grann. It’s a biographic adventure film following the life of British Army Officer-come-Explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) and his obsession with tracking down the remains of a lost civilisation in the Amazon Rainforest during the early 20th century.
Along the way, Percy is partnered with Corporal Henry Costing (Robert Pattinson) and the pair, along with many others, are led by Fawcett’s obsession into the deepest reaches of the rainforest, where they are confronted by disease, starvation, cannibal tribes and mother nature at her very wildest. Their discoveries are met with ridicule by the scientific establishment of London, but the group are able to convince them to return to the Amazon again and again, each time trying to get just that little bit closer to the truth.
Meanwhile, Fawcett’s family eagerly await his return in the English countryside. Nina Fawcett (Sienna Miller) plays a huge role in providing the emotional anchor for her family, welcoming her husband back eagerly and lamenting his departure. The effect is soon felt by his aging children, too, who grow up detached from their father for much of the film.
As a biopic, there’s nothing I can say that faults the intention of this film. I can’t say I’ve read the book that it is inspired by (although I am tempted), but the film goes a long way to tell the emotional story of a man and his love of adventure, balanced on the knife edge between his family and his career. Small moments throughout the story hint that Fawcett’s obsession is his alone, with many characters expressing their terror at how far he will take his companions to find this so-called city.
I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t more of the actual exploration of the rainforest. Considering that Colonel Percy Fawcett served as one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones, I would have absolutely loved to have seen more of the group following the clues and actively participating int he search for the Lost City. And yes – I get that this isn’t an Indiana Jones movie, but the rainforest segments – while beautifully shot – felt a little like they just weren’t going anywhere.
That is, until the final trek into the rainforest – but I don’t delve into spoilers this week!
The production design, too, is absolutely flawless. From costumes to props, to locations and supporting characters, the film felt exceptionally authentic and completely nailed the tone and feel for the era. I couldn’t help but feel Charlie Hunnam and Sienna Miller, as the leading roles, felt a little too modern, but this is a pretty minor nitpick in an otherwise great watch.
As a quick side note, Robert Pattinson absolutely excels in his lead supporting role. In the face of Fawcett’s borderline madness, Costin stands solid. A relationship that reminded me of many a period adventure story of gentleman-and-valet getting into all sorts of mishaps. Likewise, it’s great to see Ian McDiarmid on the big screen again. That man is worth his weight in gold.
So, overall, The Lost City Of Z isn’t a particularly exceptional film, but it does an excellent job of capturing the essence of its characters in a world of intrigue and curiosity. I would have preferred a more focussed story on either his home life, or his adventures in the Amazon, but as it stands this is a very watchable, beautifully shot film that absolutely deserves checking out.
If nothing else, this film serves as an excellent trailer to, I’m sure, a story of a truly fascinating man and a real life adventure that inspired scientists, storytellers and explorers for several generations.
Yours, A P Tyler