The 30-Second Synopsis: It's the turn of the 20th century, and British soldier Percy Fawcett is hungry to make a name for himself. Shortly after being sent to mediate a border dispute between Bolivia and Brazil, he finds himself entranced with the Amazon—and the secrets it might contain. He ends up dedicating his life to locating a lost city that he believes exists, undiscovered, deep in the jungle. His motives are not purely archaeological: he's driven by a desire to enlighten his compatriots to the fact that they may not be the sole architects of modern civilization they fancy themselves to be.
"If we may find a city where one was considered impossible to exist, it may well write a whole new chapter in human history!"
The Stars: A ruggedly handsome Charlie Hunnam, as Percy Fawcett; a captivating Sienna Miller, as his wife, Nina Fawcett; and a thickly bearded Robert Pattinson, as Henry Costin, Fawcett's trusty traveling companion.
The Director: James Gray (We Own the Night, Two Lovers, The Immigrant)
The Source Material: The Lost City of Z is based on the best-selling book of the same name by David Grann.
This movie is about one central question: Is it worth risking it all to "chase phantoms"?
The Life of the Searcher: This movie is about one central question: Is it worth risking it all to, in the language of the film, "chase phantoms"? At points, the The Lost City of Z seems to vehemently argue yes, presenting Fawcett's endeavors as very noble affairs. At others, it points out the inherent madness of abandoning what's right in front of you to hunt down the stuff of rumor and legend. By the end, the film undeniably reveres those who can't suppress their desire to seek out adventure.
Turns Out I Have Been Underestimating: Sienna Miller, who steals the movie. While Hunnam and Pattinson both turn in rich performances, it's Miller who captivates from the get-go. Her Nina Fawcett is forced to live a contradiction: she deeply laments her husband's constant absence—even going so far as to offer to accompany him on his harrowing journeys, only to be rebuffed for blatantly sexist reasons—and yet, she manages somehow to be an inspiring and supportive force to him through it all.
The Line That Made Me Weep: During one flashback we see the Fawcetts, surrounded by family, making a toast to their firstborn. Nina stands up and reads a note she had written for Percy in case she didn't survive childbirth. It's a plea for Percy not to spend all his time grieving her, and instead to focus on teaching their son what's important in life, not the least of which is that "to look for what is beautiful is its own reward." Miller—and the film as a whole—make it very hard to disagree.
The Lost City of Z is in theaters now.