A man’s reach should exceed his grasp. Or what’s a heaven for?
I’m pretty mixed on James Gray; I thought The Immigrant, his last film, was absolutely dreadful, a quite good central performance by Marion Cotillard notwithstanding. But he’s more than redeemed himself with this wonderful adventure drama about British explorer Percy Fawcett and his obsession with finding a lost city, and by extension evidence of a lost civilization, in the Amazon jungle. The movie, though the trailers didn’t exactly make this clear, spends a lot of time outside of the jungle, so be warned, just in case you’re expecting a full movies worth of jungle trekking. But the drama outside the jungle is, in my opinion, just as compelling as the expeditions themselves and the movie takes its time with everything – this isn’t a heartpounding thrill a minute film, but it’s a compelling human drama from start to finish. Charlie Hunnam is brilliant as Fawcett; I’ve been waiting for another performance of this caliber since Nicholas Nickleby way back in the day and he’s finally delivered. Sienna Miller is career best, in my opinion, as Fawcett’s longsuffering wife. A virtually unrecognizable Robert Pattinson continues to prove himself a versatile and valuable character actor in a supporting role as a bearded, bespectacled, backwards fellow explorer. Angus Macfadyen is as good as he’s ever been in a supporting role as a famous explorer that takes Fawcett under his wing, but then reveals some initially hidden flaws. The movie is disturbing at times in its violence and graphic imagery; it’s one of the harder PG-13s I’ve seen, I think. The film is ultimately gripping and, by its conclusion, quite haunting. It stayed in my head in a really strong way for a few days after seeing it and it’s really just a kind of classically styled masterpiece. About the only thing wrong with it is Tom Holland as Fawcett’s son; there’s nothing really wrong with his performance, but, oof, that dreadful mustache. Hopefully, Spider-Man stays clean-shaven or the Marvel Cinematic Universe may lose me. Regardless, The Lost City of Z is a must-see. 4 stars.
tl;dr – story of explorer Percy Fawcett is compelling human drama & adventure story in a classical style of filmmaking one rarely sees; great performances elevate this haunting masterpiece. 4 stars.