Finding a Place Between Dislike and Hate in The Lost City of Z

The first time I can recall a face sticking to the name Charlie Hunnam in my often unreliable memory bank was during a marathon session of Sons of Anarchy following its second season on FX (before it shit the bed with an Ireland misadventure). I was desperate for something to watch at that very minute and ended up blazing through those two seasons in a weekend.

I hadn’t realized at the time that Jax was the guy from that Undeclared show because, well, I didn’t expect that guy to still be working. When I made the connection, and saw his work on SOA, I figured the only way he made it through casting was blackmail or the dark wizard arts.

charlie hunnam soa
Charlie Hunnam Sons of Anarchy

A friend who embarked on a similar marathon of SOA said that that Jax guy couldn’t act his way out of a wet paper bag.

Years had past since that SOA weekend with nary a Charlie Hunnam thought passing through my head. Then came Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur movie, and the ridiculous 6′ cardboard displays that followed. Charlie Hunnam had found his way back into my life.

I’m pretty sure I saw or heard the internet say over the last few days that Hunnam was an acting revelation in The Lost City of Z and that it was the only film that matters so far this year, which is funny since I didn’t even know it existed. Hey, I came around on Hard-gulp Josh Hartnett after seeing Penny Dreadful, maybe Hunnam was due. So I rolled the dice and I bought my ticket.

Lost City of Z ticket stub

That guy is still that guy and the internet is a liar.

Like a cat that wouldn’t die, TLCOZ commits the cardinal sin of cinema over a monotonously paced 141 minutes. It is long and slow and boring.

When I left the theater, I felt like I had been on a three-year journey down the Amazon River, but not in that fun Fitzcarraldo way, which is my main problem with the film. It just wasn’t a good time. I felt like James Gray and Co. had overvalued the story so much they wanted it to stand on its own and not be given the Hollywood treatment. But unfortunately that just leaves you with a long and dull film, so great job smarty-pants.

Hunnam’s performance suffers the same fate. He is so desperate not to suck, he avoids taking any risks with the character and just goes straight for basic vanilla, which could work for some actors, but this guy has no charisma. Obviously, the perfect lead for a nearly 3 hour long film.

On the positive, Robert Pattinson continues to earn my respect with his quest to ugly the shit out of himself in supporting roles. He played with fire in The Rover, tackling a mentally challenged character after becoming ridiculously famous for being a twinkling vampire, and was quite good in an under-appreciated movie. Here he asks to made to look like John Lennon with a face full of blisters, and ends up turning in a pretty decent performance.

A more inspiring film would have left me pondering the duality of ignorance and adventure within the nature of man and humanity’s challenging relationship with the environment. But instead I was just wondering if it’s harder to make a good story dull or a dull story compelling?

Charlie in The Lost City of Z




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