The Lost City of Z is one of those films that are annoying to review because my feelings about it are complicated and conflicting. It is a fascinating story and I liked it, but I would have enjoyed it way more had it been given a substantial trim because it is too long and slow.
The film brings to life the real-life story of British military man-turned-explorer Percy Fawcett, who disappeared in 1925 while hunting down a mysterious city in the Amazon. Charlie Hunnam plays Fawcett, who we follow on three trips to South America. First off, he goes there to help a mapping mission with men including Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson) and Arthur Manley (Edward Ashley), but after finding evidence of a settlement, he becomes determined to find Z and goes there on two more occasions, and never returns from the third.
The most annoying thing about the film was the ambiguity of the ending but there’s not much that can be done about that. Nobody knows what happened to Fawcett and his son Jack (Tom Holland), they simply disappeared and reports about their final moments have never been verified. It just means that we get no resolution and the camera pans away from the action and you’re left guessing. Obviously that’s what happened in real life but argh, the frustration. I still feel like it could have been handled better, in a way that had more impact because I felt very deflated by the end.
The film is very epic in nature as it follows Fawcett over a long time frame and follows three separate adventures in the jungle. The trials and tribulations of trekking through the jungle are fascinating and engrossing – up until the film becomes really long and plodding. While I think both of the earlier missions are important, I think a lot of the family stuff at the start could have been shaved down and the war portion was unnecessarily long. This meant that by the time we got around to the ill-fated final expedition, I was really ready for it to be over so I didn’t care so much.
What makes it more frustrating is that the story is so incredible and fascinating and it is ruined by the length. The slow pace didn’t really bother me for most of the movie, I was soaking it all in, loving it all, especially Sienna Miller’s short but effective performance, it was just the final third, from the war portion onwards. And this is a movie comprised of failed attempts which is annoying in itself as I really wanted Fawcett to discover his city!
Now you might have a better idea why I found the movie so hard to write about. I did enjoy it for the majority, it looks gorgeous and the cast (although I imagine Benedict Cumberbatch would have done a better job than Hunnam) are brilliant, but it is let down by the final third and that just ruins everything.
In cinemas Friday 24th March