The lineup for the two major American film festivals of the Fall/Winter season are firming up, and while Toronto’s lineup is already overflowing with buzzed-about movies and small masterworks, New York Film Festival has only outlined its three crowning works, its headliners. Word came down in the last few weeks that Ava DuVernay‘s prison-reform documentary The 13th would open the festival, and Mike Mills‘ anticipated period-piece 20th Century Women will serve as the centerpiece. And now, the great James Gray‘s latest film, Lost City of Z, has been announced as the closing night film. The film stars Pacific Rim‘s Charlie Hunnam and Robert Pattinson, but also includes supporting roles from Sienna Miller and Tom Holland, the titular star of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Gray is one of the very best American directors we have, but his films have largely been small-scale, intensely personal works that touch on the crime genre and melodrama but have their own unique flavor that transcends genre constraints. His last film, The Immigrant, breathed new life into the age-old story of destitute Europeans making their way in America via Ellis Island, and featured career-best performances from the likes of Marion Cotillard, Joaquin Phoenix, and Jeremy Renner. That, combined with other new classics like Little Odessa, The Yards, and Two Lovers, have given Gray a reputation as one of our premiere visual artists. These films vibrate with intimate knowledge of growing up in orthodox families that had to struggle to find their way in America, and whose children took on some less-than-enviable traits of American society. And though Lost City of Z is more of an adventure film, one that crosses two continents, there’s every reason to believe that it will be just as distinct and expertly culled from personal experience as Gray’s other films.
Here’s the first full image from Lost City of Z:
Here’s the synopsis for the film via Film Society of Lincoln Center:
James Gray’s emotionally and visually resplendent epic tells the story of Lieutenant Colonel Percy Fawcett (a remarkable Charlie Hunnam), the British military-man-turned-explorer whose search for a lost city deep in the Amazon grows into an increasingly feverish, decades-long magnificent obsession that takes a toll on his reputation, his home life with his wife (Sienna Miller) and children, and his very existence. Gray and cinematographer Darius Khondji cast quite a spell, exquisitely pitched between rapture and dizzying terror. Also starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Holland, The Lost City of Z represents a form of epic storytelling that has all but vanished from the landscape of modern cinema, and a rare level of artistry.