The Lost City of Z ★½

Every frame a fussy diorama, a doll's house, painstakingly arranged over and over until any affect has been exhausted, leaving behind only the attenuated simulcra of emotion. For example, a Great War scene so fastidiously composed that there is even an important piece of paper fluttering through the mud, only to be stuck against the barbwire. In other words, a boring, lifeless work, which like the recent Snowden is confused about its own aims: is this a biopic of a man on a quixotic quest or this the story of a quixotic quest? The distinction is subtle, far too subtle for a film which bludgeons its way through the jungle with a machete. A film which baffles all logic: how does an actor of such meagre talents as Charlie Hunnam carry an entire film? The answer is of course he doesn't; every line of dialogue he spools from his mouth in the cadence of a great speech, but oration is not and never will be his forte. He's always centre stage, adrift in a punctilious sequence of images and dramaturgically inert scenes, adding little and signifying even less. Subplots are introduced with all dramatic weight, only to be forgotten in the next scene, as the ruthless forward momentum of the biopic means important touchstones can only ever be moments, periods ending the long finicky sentences that is this film. Yuck, no thanks.

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