Get lost in the story

Char­lie Hun­nam gives a ca­reer-best per­for­mance as real-life ex­plorer Percy Fawcett in The Lost City of Z, which por­trays the epic spirit of ad­ven­ture with­out los­ing sight of the hu­man sto­ries at its heart, writes Kaleem Aftab

The National - News - Arts & Life - - Front Page -

The Lost City of Z Di­rec­tor: James Gray Stars: Char­lie Hun­nam, Si­enna Miller, Tom Hol­land and Robert Pat­tin­son cett is con­sid­ered an out­sider by the es­tab­lish­ment be­cause his father was an al­co­holic gam­bler from the wrong back­ground. That same es­tab­lish­ment treats the very idea of a civilised Ama­zo­nian cul­ture with dis­dain. Im­pe­ri­al­ist global view­points pre­vail.

It is an in­trigu­ing set-up as it paints Fawcett as an hon­ourable ex­plorer look­ing for en­light­en­ment, rather than ex­ploiter of other cul­tures. But is he a hero?

Au­thor Grann’s por­trayal of Fawcett as a great ex­plorer has been much dis­puted – and Gray cer­tainly shows us some of his foibles.

His trek in the Ama­zon is not with­out dan­gers – a lo­cal tribe shoot ar­rows at his team, for ex­am­ple – but his story is far from the swash­buck­ling ad­ven­tures of In­di­ana Jones. The episodic struc­ture can be repet­i­tive and the de­lib­er­ate, steady pac­ing is oc­ca­sion­ally test­ing. What di­rec­tor James Gray seems most in­ter­ested in – as he was with his un­der­rated Cannes Palme d’Or con­tender Two Lovers – is the per­sonal cost of our de­ci­sions.

Where the Lost City of Z ex­cels is not when Fawcett is in the jun­gles of South Amer­ica, but when he’s back in Eng­land with his wife Nina (a ca­reer-best per­for­mance from Si­enna Miller) who has to cope with rais­ing their chil­dren on her own, ne­glected by a hus­band who craves ad­ven­ture.

With­out over­play­ing the point, Gray shows how Fawcett’s fail­ure to in­te­grate into the up­per ech­e­lons of Bri­tish so­ci­ety is repli­cated by his fail­ure to hold down a tra­di­tional fam­ily life.

His re­la­tion­ship with his el­dest child (new Spi­der-Man Tom Hol­land) is es­pe­cially on-point in its de­pic­tion of fa­thers as hero fig­ures.

Robert Pat­tin­son also pops up as a fel­low ex­plorer, an­other ca­reer choice seem­ingly de­signed to dis­tance the ac­tor far from his Twi­light saga ori­gins.

All in all, there is much to ad­mire in this throw­back to the best of epic Hol­ly­wood film­mak­ing in the 1970s.


Ai­dan Mon­agha

Char­lie Hun­nam plays Percy Fawcett, an ex­plorer in The Lost City of Z. He gives a per­for­mance that can be de­scribed as ca­reer-defin­ing.

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