Review: The Lost City of Z

Originally published on CommonSpace.

Based on a true story, The Lost City of Z documents Colonel Percy Fawcett’s adventures to the Amazon as he seeks to uncover a hidden society he has named Z (zed, not zee). It is the turn of the 20th century and what can be considered new is becoming increasingly rare. Fawcett is starry-eyed at the prospect of being the first to find something untouched by the British.

The years go by and with each failed attempt he longs to try one more time. He has ignored his family, tested the patience of The Geographical Society, and is ageing.

What ought to be this wonderful and passionate adventure story ends up feeling like a trip on a replacement bus service. Where some have offered the film is “old-fashioned”, others may opine it’s “boring”.

Charlie Hunman is outshone by Robert Pattinson, here playing Corporal Henry Costin, Fawcett’s traveling companion. It means the film’s nebulous is dull and without magnetism – Pattinson is more interesting but this isn’t his story. Sienna Miller is outstanding as Nina Fawcett, Percy’s wife, and a real brushstroke of colour in a monotonous trek.

It’s a story spanning 30 years that feels like it takes 35. For all it has to say about attitudes towards indigenous groups of people, colonialism, and the central sense of adventure, it is constrained by a plodding pace and an unsympathetic protagonist.

The Lost City of Z in its current format does not work. Maybe it should have been marketed as a biographical feature. Maybe it should have been a short TV series. As it is, it feels longer than its runtime, is visually unappetising, and is just a bit rubbish.



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