Film review: “The Lost City of Z”

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James Grey is a filmmaker who best known for helming films like The Yards and We Own the Night which were set in his hometown of New York City. With The Lost City of Z, Grey moves from the concrete jungle to the Amazonian jungle by adapting author David Grann’s book of the true story of British explorer Percy Fawcett.  

In the dawn of the 20th century, Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is plucked from serving as a colonial officer for the British Secret Service to being enlisted by the Royal Geographical Society for his surveying and mapmaking skills. His opportunity for advancement in the military ranks presents itself in the form of a mapmaking job objective in South America. With a few men at his side including his aide, Henry (Robert Pattinson), Fawcett discovers evidence of a mythical lost city at an unfounded area located between Bolivia and Brazil. This becomes an obsession for Fawcett, which instigates more trips to the Amazon over the next several years until he disappeared during one of his expeditions in 1925.

Just like his previous film The Immigrant, Grey’s film feels like a hidden film gem that looks and feels like it was made several years back. It is as if he is invoking the early works of Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Part II) with the last couple of projects in his filmography. Grey not only captures the obsession and potential madness of his character, but the toll it takes on his personal life and the effects it has on his wife (Sienna Miller) and eldest son (Tom Holland). Darius Khondji’s second collaboration with Grey is another home run for the cinematographer as he channels the works of Vittorio Storaro (Apocalypse Now) and Thomas Mauch (Werner Herzog’s Aguirre: The Wrath of God) by capturing stunning visuals and images of the Columbian jungle.

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Aside from his work as bike gang leader Jax on Sons of Anarchy, Hunnam has been saddled with playing one-dimensional characters on film. The same goes for Miller, who had just as much luck as Hunnam playing unmemorable and one-note characters. However, both actors turn in tremendous performances thanks to the Grey’s meticulous direction. Hunnam excels as an individual constantly consumed with finding the lost city he calls Zed. Miller is just as exceptional as his wife who sticks with her husband through thick and thin but is not afraid to call him out for not having that caring enough for his family

The Lost City of Z is a grandiose film that features stunning cinematography, scrupulous direction and terrific performances. This is a movie that has to be seen in theaters in order for people to fully emerge themselves in this pure cinematic experience.

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