Lost City of Z

LetterboxD review link

Structurally, Lost City of Z, feels very much like a book. It contains a prologue, three acts mostly based around Fawcett’s three trips into Amazonia, and an epilogue (with a great final shot). The New Yorker story, that led to the novel, that led to this movie, is one of the best pieces I’ve ever read in the magazine. David Grann, as anyone will tell you, is a masterful story teller. He is methodical and detail oriented, a fine journalist, but he never loses sight of the goal of a story – capturing and retaining the audience’s attention.

James Gray, in the same role, is not nearly as successful. He is successful as a director working in the medium of film. His frames are beautiful cast, lighting, sound, the environment are all used beautifully. But in his most important role, as tone manager, he’s not as successful. There’s a missing sense of urgency throughout the film. Each trip to Amazonia is self-contained and has internal tension, but there’s a missing sense of overall connection. What animated younger Fawcett, versus old Fawcett, versus even older Fawcett? For notes, Gray may want to look at the tripartite structure of Moonlight.

The “woke Indian Jones” moniker that this film has picked up seems fitting. And although Fawcett may have been ahead of his times in terms of nativisit rights, his backwardness as a husband and father are given some attention too, which plays in this film’s favor, but again, just should have been better managed tonally.