The Lost City of Z

Despite some considerable critical praise being showered on this one, I must warn you – it’s a jungle out there.

Based on the real story of British explorer Percy Fawcett (allegedly the model for Indiana Jones), director James Gray takes us up the Amazon to dodge darts, piranhas, snakes and cougars while searching for a mythical lost civilisation.

Map surveyor Fawcett, played with a fatal lack of charisma by Charlie Hunnan, floats on his raft, finds a waterfall, finds a couple of broken pots and comes home to his yearning wife Nina, played with a fatal lack of charisma by Sienna Miller.

Cue lots of what I call “Rhubarb Rhubarb” scenes when Fawcett presents his findings to a disbelieving audience of beardy Edwardians at the Royal Geographic Society back in London.

On another trip, accompanied by his faithful mate Robert Pattinson in a beard, he makes nice with the natives but is let down by a fat drunk bloke they’ve brought along and so he comes home again to Nina, who’s had another baby in the meantime and has done up the bedroom in a nice new William Morris print.

There’s time for decent chap Fawcett to do his bit for the boys at the Somme but he’s still got the exploring bug, and that itch to find that dashed lost city.

Now, Fawcett has a fine moustache and would easily get a job serving craft beer in Hoxton, and Nina really wants him to stay and enjoy his children. Instead, he returns to the jungle, taking his oldest son with him (Tom Holland) and running into more natives, not always so friendly this time. Fawcett disappears, and has never been heard of since – until this film, probably.

I have to say, much of this would be laughable if it wasn’t so dull and earnest. I’m amazed anyone finds it fascinating – Gray deliberately, almost obtusely downplays any Boys’ Own-type excitement and creates yet another in a career of what’s amounting to a series of underpowered film homages, each  not as good as the genres it evokes, pastiches or purports to upend (The Yards, Two Lovers, We Own The Night).

I can’t see where The Lost City of Z appeals – it’s not exciting, philosophical, genre-defining, well-acted, sexy, mind-altering or fascinating. It’s just, you know, there. Discover it if you will but, like those tribes living quite happily up the Amazon, it’s probably best left uncharted.

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