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The Lost City of Z

The Lost City of Z

Directed by James Gray. Starring Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid. (2017, PG-13, 141 min.)

REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., April 21, 2017

The burden of dreams can drive a sane man mad, but in the meandering historical drama The Lost City of Z, the lofty vision of 20th century British cartographer and explorer Colonel Percival Fawcett simply feels like something inconveniently just out of reach. Lacking any true inspirational dimension, the film’s depiction of Fawcett’s lifelong search for proof of an ancient lost civilization hidden in the uncharted jungles of Bolivia seldom rises to anything above a historical footnote here. Based on white-hot New Yorker journalist David Grann’s 2009 bestselling nonfiction book, this endeavor also comes nowhere close to the crazy glint in the eye of Brian Sweeney Fitzgerald in Werner Herzog’s feverish Fitzcarraldo, an unquestionably more compelling portrait of an obsessed Westerner seduced and abandoned by Amazonia’s mysteries. Even a loony hint of T.E. Lawrence might have helped the movie transcend its rather prosaic – and lengthy – “then this, then that happened” History Channel narrative. Like the Amazon, the movie feels as if it goes on forever. Metaphorically speaking, the oddly enervated The Lost City of Z is a journey without a destination, much like modern-day conquistador Fawcett’s futile quest for an extraordinary place that may ultimately only exist within the four corners of his mind. Its heart of darkness palpitates with the beat of the mundane rather than anything tragic, or even the truly sad, although its central character’s delusions occasionally elicit a sigh, if only out of pity.

Although Hunnam’s performance as the film’s frustrated visionary is adept enough, it decidedly lacks charisma. The actor plays his dramatic scenes straight from the diaphragm, with perfect enunciation. The script’s family angle (Fawcett’s wife’s and eldest son’s feelings of abandonment) broadens the characterizations a bit, but it contradictorily trades in cliches. More pointedly, there’s little sense of adventure or danger in this tale brimming with the possibility of excitement. Director/screenwriter Gray never quite figures out how to jump-start Fawcett’s pursuit of a place called Zed into an experience that feels like something more than merely flipping the pages of a book. Despite its best intentions, The Lost City of Z never finds itself, doomed to aimlessly wander to an unsatisfying conclusion of a dream that betrays the best of men.

Alamo Drafthouse Village

2700 W. Anderson  512/861-7030

drafthouse.com/austin/theater/village

Tuesday matinee Baby Day shows (first show of the day) are intended for parents and their children younger than 6. Showtimes at this venue are subject to frequent change. Please confirm daily times by phone or website.

MON MAY 29

12:45, 3:10

TUE MAY 30

3:10
AFA: 12:45

WED MAY 31

1:30

Arbor Cinema @ Great Hills

9828 Great Hills Trail  512/231-9742

Discounts daily before 6pm.

MON MAY 29

CC: 12:05, 3:00, 6:30, 9:40

TUE MAY 30

CC: 12:05, 3:00, 6:30, 9:40

WED MAY 31

CC: 12:05, 3:00, 6:30, 9:40

THU JUN 01

CC: 12:05, 3:00, 6:30, 9:40

Violet Crown Cinema

434 W. Second  512/495-9600

www.violetcrowncinema.com

Four-hour parking validation in attached garage with ticket purchase. Reserved seating; bar and cafe on-site.

MON MAY 29

11:10am, 1:20, 3:10, 9:00

TUE MAY 30

11:10am, 1:20, 3:10, 9:00

WED MAY 31

11:10am

THU JUN 01

11:10am, 1:20, 3:10, 9:00
READ MORE
More James Gray Films
The Immigrant
Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix star in James Gray's latest New York opus, a story about a woman turned out from Ellis Island to fend for herself on the mean streets of New York.

Kimberley Jones, May 30, 2014

Two Lovers
Joaquin Phoenix (in what he claims is his last film role) stars as a nebbishy New Yorker caught between two very different women.

Marc Savlov, Feb. 27, 2009

More by Steve Davis
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
The wimpy kid returns for a reboot

May 19, 2017

Snatched
A mother/daughter vacation from hell

May 12, 2017

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Lost City of Z, James Gray, Charlie Hunnam, Robert Pattinson, Sienna Miller, Tom Holland, Edward Ashley, Angus Macfadyen, Ian McDiarmid

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