I found the experience of watching this film to be akin to that of
listening to a person living with dementia telling you about their
life, with an adoring relative interjecting only to say "Oh he was
lovely!" every now and then.
It is, in essence, a series of episodes vaguely summarising various
events of Fawcett's life. Occasionally but briefly in intricate detail,
but predominantly with a general lack of substance. To return to my
analogy, I imagined myself at one point saying "That's incredible! Tell
me how you felt at that moment, did you realise right then the
magnitude of your discovery? Tell me about the gruelling journey home,
was it fraught with peril?" Only for the storyteller to continue.. "So
I arrived back in London...".
No! Please give me more details. I've dedicated over two hours of my
life to hear your story, but I've come away with roughly the same
amount of information as I could've gleaned from the back of a
primary-school student's pencil case. You know, like the ones that just
have a time-line with monarchs' names or some such alongside, but are
lacking in any further description.
On the plus side, it was quite nicely shot at points although it did
feel as if this, coupled with the apparent fact that this film was
shown in selected, more 'prestigious' and therefore expensive
theatres/screens were little more than candid narcissism and was
tantamount to the director pleasuring himself in my face for the price
of my £16 ticket. Additionally, and somewhat bizarrely, the first 20%
of the film had a near-constant and somewhat mediocre musical score,
immediately followed by a scene wherein some mediocre opera playing
within earshot of the characters could be easily mistaken for a
continuation of said score. This was intrusive and unnecessary, and
although it didn't continue throughout the duration of the film, this
did not excuse its inclusion in the first place.
Due to the lack of detail or any attempt at interconnection between
what I shall continue to refer to as 'the episodes' with a deliberate
lack of capitalisation as I don't consider them worthy of a title,
alongside abrupt changes in setting, the experience could also be
likened to that of being held hostage in a stranger's living room as
they mindlessly alternate channels between a Channel5 period drama and
a recap of a Blue Peter trip to the Amazon told from the perspective of
a donkey wearing blinkers, such is the lack of momentum and detail.
Dialogue is painfully slow and, were this not the case, the running
time could've been significantly shortened or better still been put to
good use in filling in at least some of the notably absent detail. I am
an advocate of a move away from the 90minute format of most films but
this does nothing to support that argument.
There is also a borderline-distasteful adoration of Fawcett's alleged
delivery of faux-profound proclamations worthy of being printed on the
back of a market-stall iPhone case. I am left unsure of whether this
was artistic licence or if Fawcett really was that much of a nob.
Similarly, little reference is made of his questionable attitude toward
the role and capability of women or his insistence upon prioritising
the recognition of his peers and reclaiming of the status of his family
name over the emotional well-being of his dependants.
Ultimately, his blind faith led only by local legend and a randomly
placed Russian fortune teller, and failure to commit to his children
led Fawcett either to his death and that of his son or, according to
this film, to his decision to remain in the utopia he may have
discovered, thus abandoning his wife and remaining children and leaving
them only with a faint hope that he survived. The former is likely more
plausible, though the latter would come as no surprise.
In summary The Lost City of Z is a vacuous, self-indulgent and
ultimately forgettable portrayal of what may have been a great man, but
likely was the exploration equivalent of a modern-day philosophy
student embarking upon a degree in order to suspend the
responsibilities of adult life.
Recommended as an alternative to viewing your Auntie's slide show of
sunburn-heavy holiday snaps from her latest trip to Alicante or similar
Sun holiday destination.