The Lost City of Z review lush jungle adventure

Glorious music, photography and Robert Pattinsons beard make this trip up the Amazon just about worth it

Terrible diseases, murderous savages. Not to mention waters that boil with piranhas: Col Percival Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) is prepared to face all of this and more on a mapping expedition to Bolivia. His hope is that a successful mission will help him excise the shame that clings to his family name like some parasitic growth. But in fact, in James Grays uneven account of a real-life explorers obsession with Amazonia, Fawcett discovers that he feels more alive picking leeches out of his armpit hair than he ever did in the drawing rooms of polite society. And there are moments of richly realised magic here in which we fully sympathise with him.

A nod to Herzogs Fitzcarraldo is one a gorgeously odd segment in which Fawcett and his team stumble upon an opera performance deep in the heart of the jungle. And music in general is key. The score, by Christopher Spelman, is a glorious, transcendent surge and swell, which evokes both the lush orchestral compositions of old Hollywood and the devotional music of John Tavener. Together with the colour-saturated reverence of Darius Khondjis photography, it captures the wonder and the spiritual element of Fawcetts travels.

In contrast to the score, Hunnam doggedly sticks to one note for his underwhelming performance. Robert Pattinson may be in a supporting role and almost entirely covered in beard, but he is considerably more interesting to watch. You ultimately find yourself wishing that his character, rather than the dashing but dull Fawcett, was the focus of the film.

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