Director James Gray (The Immigrant) retells history through the perspectives of whoever influenced the great man’s journeys, including the British council, his three children, and his committed wife. The missus criticizes him for leaving home to explore new worlds, sharing no part of it with them. She wants him to think women have it harder than men, considering the pains of childbirth and house care. Yet she barely knows anything about the true unkind nature of South America’s rainforest, a world ruled by snakes, bats, and starvation.
Yes, every character expresses enough inner conflict to keep any man invested along with his wife and son. Although Gray’s feature may just as well best suit male audiences, as the whole family-side of the feature gets underused rather poorly; Mr. Fawcett’s three kids hardly have anything to say, let alone any attention. While the oldest, played by Tom Holland (Captain America: Civil War, Lo imposible), delivers a strong treatment, his screen presence offers no justice. He does not give the worst performance ever, but you could still buy into him, unlike the insufferable child who plays the younger pre-teen version of himself.
Away from all familiarity, Mr. Fawcett takes on the dangers of the outside world in Brazil’s rainforest. His team goes on the search for a hidden civilization void of previous White folk visitation. They eventually find ancient pottery, only miles away from a native tribe, who quickly become allies. These non-English speakers contribute well to the story, except they receive too little dialogue to leave a true impression on anyone, including the protagonist.
In fact, most of the time, these “Redskins” are the arrow-launching, bloodthirsty savages who fit the British stereotypes. Their weapons of choice cause unimaginable chaos for these sightseers, including entanglement under water behind a cloud of blood. It sets all sort of energy upon the screen, guaranteeing an aggressive transportation into the environment, clearly the film’s best moments.
Then once the action screeches to a halt, we have the camerawork by cinematographer Darius Khondji (Evita, Se7en) to watch. In fully sincerity, he has created probably the worst efforts of his career—no contrast exists in the already dark and grainy image. He just makes everything green and sunny, even if it means blowing out details in the facial features. Thankfully however, the tremendous eyesore turns slightly merciful three-quarters of the way through the movie. Here, the genre briefly turns into a relatively unimpactful war drama, which still manages to deliver Saving Private Ryan-esque thrills to those testosterone senses.
Numerous other traits uplift this average joe of a biopic, such as the believable period costumes and the breathtaking greenery, while others pull it back, such as a forgettable musical score and Robert Pattinson’s acting (progress is being made though). Maybe things could have worked better if Bleecker Street aimed for a hard-R rating, as the Brazilians themselves feature all sorts of related red flags: naked overweight women, cannibalism, to name a few. At least nothing appears excessive enough to make any teenagers squirm with immaturity.
So now the question remains: “Should I bother sitting through a biopic that probably won’t make it past 20 million in the box office?” The Lost City of Z may not be the riskiest motion picture ever made, but it offers precisely what worldwide audiences need while considering our ancestry, and how the inadequacy of our self-knowledge points us toward a single reality: we all come from the same soil.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see reviewed, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Berman, Eliza. “The True Story Behind The Lost City of Z.” TIME, 14 Apr 2017. Web. <http://time.com/4735505/the-lost-city-of-z-true-story/>.
“The Lost City of Z.” Bleecker Street. Web. <http://www.bleeckerstreetmedia.com/thelostcityofz>.
Monaghan, Aidan. “Toronto: Charlie Hunnam Drama 'The Lost City of Z' Lands at Bleecker Street (Exclusive).” Digital image. The Hollywood Reporter. 8 Sept 2016. Web. <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/charlie-hunnam-drama-lost-city-926731>.