The Lost City of Z ★½

The lost city of Zzzzzzzz. More mediocrity from the sultan of snooze James Gray. The writer/director is forging quite a career out of turning what appear to be compelling ideas into soulless and drab cinema experiences. Such a shame in this case. Yet with a portfolio that includes The Immigrant, Two Lovers and We Own the Night, it’s hardly a surprise. 

There are positives, including some wonderful cinematography from the brilliant Darius Khondji, an excellent, understated performance from Sienna Miller and the ever-efficient Robert Pattinson in the role of Fawcett’s unassuming sidekick. But remarkable as these performances are, they do nothing but expose the film’s fundamental problem. Charisma vacuum Charlie Hunnan is barely endurable. A film ultimately about an individual’s obsession with an improbable idea requires something more magnetic from its main man. Robert Pattinson is far more capable, and I couldn’t help but wonder whether the film would have been improved if the two actors had switched roles. 

A film laden with flaws that just about gets by on its few minor hits. Percy Fawcett’s story is a compelling and remarkable tale, abundant in mystery and certainly not lacking in depth, as Gray’s underwhelming effort implies. I wanted to like this film – and perhaps there’s still good a movie to be extracted from the source material – but this ain’t it.