LOST CITY OF Z, THE
British explorer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) journeys into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century for the Royal Geographical Society to provide an independent survey marking the border between Bolivia and Brazil. In the process, he discovers evidence of a previously unknown, advanced civilization that may have once inhabited the region. Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment who regard indigenous populations as "savages," the determined Fawcett - supported by his devoted wife Nina (Sienna Miller), son Jack (Tom Holland) and aide de camp, Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) returns time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925. (Based on a true story.)
Review by Louise Keller:
The dream to find a lost civilization is the focus of this enthralling and involving adventure film whose themes of bravery, sacrifice and obsession play out on a spectacular reality in the unforgiving South American Jungle. Adapted from David Grann's book and based on the true story about British explorer Colonel Percy Fawcett, director James Gray has crafted a wonderful film that captures all the aspirations, exhilaration and fears of the journey.
Robert Browning's words 'A man's reach should be greater than his grasp' has never been so well depicted than in this ferocious battle of man versus the unknown, when he finds himself battling against the elements as well as man - civilized and not.
From the moment we meet the Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) in Cork in 1905, it is clear that he is an exceptional man - with courage and strong conviction. Initially, his brief to map unchartered territories in Bolivia (to protect investments in the lucrative rubber plantations) is set to boost his career in the British Army and be accepted into the inner-circle. To date, his lineage from a drunk, gambling father has curbed his ambitions. That how it starts - his first trip whets his appetite for adventure and his obsession about discovering 'the ultimate piece of the human puzzle' and hidden civilisations begins.
Hunnam (with Brad Pitt good looks and Michael Fassbender determination) has a magnetic presence throughout: commanding and convincing. His soft, deliberate delivery adds greatly to Fawcett's credibility and appeal. Robert Pattinson is excellent as his loyal aide-de-camp (almost unrecognisable buried under a bushy beard), while Sienna Miller delivers a heartfelt performance as the faithful wife who sacrifices her life for her husband's dreams. Tom Holland, as Hunnam's older son Jack is effective in displaying deepseated resentment of his absent father that turns to pride and admiration.
Everything relies on the sequences in the jungle and our understanding of its lure as well as the treacherous nature of the forces of nature and its primitive, cannibalistic inhabitants.
At 141 minutes, the film is long but engages throughout; it allows the audience to get a feeling for the 20-year passage of time. It's an inspiring film in many ways, although ultimately there's a profound sadness about the way the jungle devours all the characters.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
At a time when British snobs thought of Amazonian tribes (amongst other indigenous peoples) as savages, the notion of an ancient civilisation in the jungle was incredible. Jungle = primitive, you see. The young Major Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) was sent to carry out the formidable task of surveying the border between Bolivia and Brazil as those two countries didn't trust each other's border lines. When he accidentally discovers ancient pottery on the forest floor, his interest is triggered, his life's ambition established.
It's a great story spanning 20 crucial years at the beginning of the 20th century, made engaging by being told through Fawcett's expeditions, his clash with the establishment and his devotion to his family, which bears the brunt of his absences. The various elements and the challenges he faces, combine to give the film an epic mood, made the more epic by the ending.
The moustachioed Hunnam is outstanding as Fawcett, courageous and determined, decent and loving ... rather too good to be true, except Fawcett plays it so neatly we don't resile from the character. Sienna Miller is a warm and sensitive Nina, always supportive but never servile, and Tom Holland brings a great sense of youthful nobility to his role as Jack, the oldest Fawcett son, who accompanies his father on the final journey into the jungle.
There are a few glitches in the film, which tries to be economical even at 141 minutes, but these are not fatal. The jungle scenes are marvellous, the 'savages' are beautiful and exotic, and the mantra that a man's 'reach should be greater than his grasp' clearly articulated.
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LOST CITY OF Z, THE (M)
CAST: Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid, Clive Francis, Pedro Coello
PRODUCER: James Gray, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner
DIRECTOR: James Gray
SCRIPT: James Gray (book by David Grann)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Darius Khondji
EDITOR: John Axlrad, Lee Haugen
MUSIC: Christopher Spelman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Jean-Vincent Puzos
RUNNING TIME: 141 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: StudioCanal
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 24, 2017