by Chris Feil
A sprawling, formally immaculate epic like James Gray’s The Lost City of Z is a rare enough to seem like a novelty these days, and Gray’s rendering makes the film feel no less precious. It plays almost like a delicate jewel box on the screen, as if any minute it will crumble to our modern touch. Z looks and breathes of a bygone era.
Charlie Hunnam stars as Colonel Percival Fawcett, an unheralded military man who rises to prominence for exploring the uncharted Amazon in the early 20th century. His first expedition leads to an obsession when he discovers signs of an ancient ruins, suggesting a developed civilization previous undiscovered by western eyes. Fawcett’s three increasingly less successful journeys could be seen as indicative of the virtue or punishment of an obsessive goal, depending on your vantage.
While the film’s trajectory is familiar to epics over the most recent decades, what sets the film apart is its complex emotional terrain...