The Lost City of Z': Low on
emotional quotient (Review By Subhash K. Jha ; Rating: **)
The narrative begins in 1905, in Cork, Ireland, where an undecorated
major of the Royal Army, Percival Fawcett, portrayed by Charlie Hunnam,
indulges in a successful deer hunt, only to be reminded that he comes
from a weak stock. Hence, he is coerced into accepting the Royal
Geographical Society's map-making expedition along the disputed border
between Brazil and Bolivia.
Fawcett leaves behind his wife Nina, played by the terrific Sienna
Miller, and their newborn son Jack for years. He is joined by a crew
that includes an almost unrecognisable and wonderfully understated
Robert Pattinson as his co-researcher and aide-de-camp Henry Costin.
Their trip, through unchartered territory, proves harrowing when they
are accosted by rough weather, terrain and savage tribes. But it is
when they find some remains of a habitation, which includes pieces of
pottery and idols strewn about, Fawcett is charged with hope and
excitement to find the once-prosperous and now extinct city that he
names "Z", after the last alphabet in the English lexicon.
He returns to Ireland, to convince his fellow countrymen that the
wilderness as a metaphor can be glimpsed but never charted. He gets
obsessed about proving to the "white world" that the inhabitants of the
Amazon are a wise race, instead of the stereotypical savages his fellow
countrymen would have the world believe. So he insists on going back to
the Amazon, time and again, to find that elusive city and prove his
case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
This film is Charlie Hunnam's canvas. He is sincere and commanding, as
he brings to the fore with natural ease the passion of Percival Fawett.
He is aptly supported by Miller and Tom Holland as his resentful son
Jack, who accompanies him on his last trip.
The screenplay, drafted by James Gray, builds Fawcett's arc, though
disjointed, with painful precision of an epically-scaled tale in
classic filmmaking style. While the journeys to the Amazon are
projected perfunctorily, Gray seems more interested in Fawcett's
internal journey. This is evident when he says to his son, "We are all
made of the same clay," and "Nothing will happen to us. It is not our
Apart from this, the screenplay is a collage of people, places and
events set in an era that seems foreign despite having existed only a
century ago. Historical inaccuracies aside, the film provides an uneven
but compelling portrait of one of the last members of a dying breed
With strong production values, the film visually seems to be inspired
by films of the genre. It is with the wide-angled lens that
cinematographer Darius Khondji skilfully captures terra-firma and the
emotions of the characters. It is the jungle scenes in particular that
are intense and immersive.
Overall, the film is skilfully and sensitively handled but does not
move you emotionally.