The Lost City Of Z Review

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James Gray’s exploration of the Amazon at the turn of the 20th century is the best work of his career.

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An essential job of great epic cinema is to lớn conjure the unimaginable for viewers, khổng lồ create glorious sights and give them depth và context, lớn try và take in the beauty of the natural world while also grappling with its terrifying force. James Gray’s The Lost City of Z succeeds in this task. A film about venturing into the unknown, it delves inkhổng lồ mysteries that will never fully be solved và digs into the mindmix of an explorer. But beyond that, it wants to lớn depict the tìm kiếm for meaningful fulfillment, to lớn try và understvà why someone might risk life and limb in pursuit of the sublime.

The Lost City of Z is a miraculous movie, at once moving, intimidating, và gorgeous lớn behold. It’s a tale of colonial exploration that’s aware of the sins of the past, & a portrait of a driven, obsessive sầu, flawed male protagonist that avoids the clichés of the genre. It feels like a work of classic Hollywood cinema, but without the arch, mannered chất lượng that can come with a contemporary director trying khổng lồ harken back to lớn the past. Gray’s film is beguiling and poetic, capable of gluing you lớn the screen for every second of its languorous 150-minute running time & lingering in the brain for weeks after.


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Adapted from David Grann’s 2009 work of non-fiction, The Lost City of Z follows Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam), a British military man-turned-explorer who first ventured inlớn the Amazon rainforest at the turn of the century. At first, Fawcett was dispatched as a surveyor, but eventually he became convinced there was evidence of a lost civilization hidden in the jungle, one as technologically advanced as any in the ancient world. Accompanied by a salty aide-de-camp, Henry Costin (Robert Pattinson), và, later, by his own son Jack (Tom Holland), Percy returned again & again lớn the Amazon in search of evidence he could bring trang chính, flying in the face of then-held beliefs about the intellectual limits of “primitive” societies.

I haven’t gravitated toward Hunnam as an actor in the past, since he’s so often slotted into handsome leading-man roles entirely lacking in dimensionality (as in Pacific Rim). But as Percy, he’s sensational. His character is driven và haunted, but not insane or unfulfilled, given his happy marriage to lớn Nimãng cầu (Sienna Miller) and his obvious love sầu for his three children. Hunnam portrays Percy’s fixation on the Amazon as something that’s not easily dismissed: A mix of ego, a desire for fame, & genuine intellectual fascination keeps pulling hyên bachồng inkhổng lồ a life of danger and long separation from his family.

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His repeated trips find hlặng boating down the Amazon river on simple rafts with Costin & other local guides, navigating the complicated political landscapes of Bolivia and Brazil as the region is ravaged by rubber tycoons, warring colonial powers, & the creeping threat of industrialization. Gray makes it clear that Percy is a white invader in a land he doesn’t understand, while recognizing that his contentions—that Amazonian societies had farmed the earth, built complex structures, and created pottery và art—were seen as absurd & borderline offensive sầu in Great Britain.

The notion that such advanced civilizations could have sầu existed in South America was widely dismissed in the West, but Percy had an empathy for the region that was unusual. While others are seeking khổng lồ strip the Amazon’s resources away, he wants only to witness its ancient artifacts. Industrial-scale expeditions bring guns into lớn the jungle lớn vì chưng battle with local tribes, but Percy simply tries lớn reason with them, looking khổng lồ find comtháng ground so that they can help hlặng search more deeply inlớn the jungle.

Gray captures all of these dynamics with appropriate subtlety. He doesn’t dismiss the danger that Percy and his crew face around every river bkết thúc, or inadvertent harm they could vày to lớn the rainforest by attracting more Westerners with their discoveries. But he also emphasizes that Percy’s fascination with the region borders on the religious, as if discovery of these ancient wonders will finally answer some formless question gnawing at his soul. How else lớn comprehend the mind of the explorer who returns khổng lồ the Amazon over and over again with little more than a paông chồng full of food & a compass?

Just as incredible, & unusual, is the amount of time Gray spends with Nina, who’s far from the lifeless stereotype of a wife at trang chủ that Miller has played many times before (in films like American Sniper & Foxcatcher). She’s a well-rounded partner to lớn Percy, an idiosyncratic figure who strains against the sexism of her era while still supporting her husbvà in whatever way she can. Gray is committed to lớn the emotional depth of every character, from the guide who leads Percy down the river to lớn the self-important, prideful James Murray (Angus Macfadyen), a fellow explorer who accompanies hyên ổn on a later trip, lớn the inscrutable but faithful Costin (easily Pattinson’s best screen performance to date).

At the same time, the director never loses sight of the natural wonders he’s trying to capture, or of the nebulous mysteries Percy is trying lớn fathom. Gray has long been a favorite of cineastes, but I’ve often found his work (such as 2007’s crime thriller We Own the Night or 2013’s period drama The Immigrant) gorgeous but frustratingly remote, technically well executed but emotionally distant. The Lost City of Z bridges those gaps—it’s beautiful lớn look at, but what makes it unforgettable is its deep compassion for its characters and their inner lives. It’s the best film of the year thus far, & it’ll be a hard one to lớn top.