‘The Lost City of Z’: Charlie Hunnam captures the mysterious life of Percy Fawcett in this beautiful biopic
Director James Gray marks off another biopic from Hollywood’s proverbial “to-do” list with The Lost City of Z. Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy, Pacific Rim) has been cast the British army major and explorer to the Amazon, Percy Fawcett, beginning his adventures in 1905. Fawcett battles authorities, long absences from his family and a ruling class of elites who refuse to acknowledge that the savage lands of South America may not be full of barbaric heathens as believed.
Fawcett is a gloomy soldier, passed over for promotion and accolades due to birth rite, but chooses to embrace the difficult journey across the ocean, leaving strong-willed wife, played by Sienna Miller, to raise their children without him. Robert Pattison (the Twilight saga star), who is somewhat hidden under an unruly beard, plays his key companion Henry Costin for their dangerous voyage down the Rio Verde.
Finding shards of finished pottery, the call for a return visit is met with racism and prejudice shocking to Fawcett and key to the motivations of Hunnam’s explorer throughout the film. He concludes there is a lost city, which he calls “Zed,” and ultimately returns for an even more dreadful trip, this time with disastrous consequences and a pain which haunts Fawcett for years.
The adventure continues with a theory of Fawcett’s fate as the story is based on David Grann’s “The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon.”
Gray’s melodrama is beautiful with great cinematography for the big screen, but offers little to no action. The journeys into the rain forest are ripe with attacks from natives, the threat of disease, injury and starvation, but little else.
Yes, you will be watching the characters battle just those things with return trips to Britain for Hunnam’s Fawcett to presumably impregnate his wife again.
Other than a subpar effort to age Hunnam, everything is adequate with his performance and presence, but Pattison shines in this film with the meat Gray offers in the long-winded script. Miller plays a woman breaking stereotypes, much like she did in Foxcatcher or American Sniper, but the relationships are…well, clunky.
Tom Holland (Spider-Man in the new Marvel films) arrives in the final chapters of the film and quickly goes from the teen angry at his absent father to a young man seeking to emulate and follow his father. If it’s true, then the “product of their time” rule must apply, but by today’s standards years of therapy would be needed to mend the father-son relationship.
Fawcett becoming a selfish, arrogant jerk at time, worried about his journeys and not his children is not something which should be applauded and while the biography can be told, a longer, more Oscar worthy cast and creators may have served the Fawcett legacy better.
The release is timed very badly, following Fate of the Furiuos and just weeks ahead of Guardians of the Galaxy 2, The Lost City of Z will get lost at the box office, offering very little action for summer time thrill seekers. This is best described as a beautiful drama, telling a “true story” but very little actually happens – Hollywood elites will love it (i.e. reviews will focus on the beauty of the film, use terms like “carefully paced” or captures the weight of these characters).
The Lost City of Z receives 2 out of 5 stars