A trip to The Lost City may not be a great adventure, but it is definitely a fun one.
The Lost City tells the story of Loretta Sage (Sandra Bullock), a brilliant novelist who chooses to live much of her life out of the public eye. Setting her adventures in exotic locations, her romance novels are as famous for her handsome cover model Alan (Channing Tatum) as they are for their tawdry tales. When Alan and Loretta engage on a promotional book tour together, Loretta is suddenly kidnapped by young billionaire Abigail Fairfax (Daniel Radcliffe) who forces her to embark on a journey to discover the same ancient city as was mentioned in her latest book. Desperate to prove to Loretta that he is every bit as dashing as her main character, Alan ventures off into the jungle in a daring rescue to bring her home.
Directed by Adam and Aaron Nee, The Lost City is a throwback film to the many of the great romantic adventures of the 1980s. While City may not be the best example of the genre but, frankly, the film works well enough for an enjoyable date night. Part Romancing the Stone, part Indiana Jones and more, City features some fun action set pieces but ultimately anchors itself in the realm of rom-com. (In fact, more than one scene feels heavily influenced by Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.)
In a lot of ways, it’s a refreshing revival.
After all, the adult-skewing romantic comedy has been somewhat of a dying breed in recent years. However, with City and JLo’s recent Marry Me, it’s possible that there’s a slight resurgence of the genre on the horizon. Banking on the charm of its stars, the film is a light-hearted affair that focuses more on the relationship than any particularly urgent ‘stakes’. Thankfully, Tatum and Bullock have some enjoyable chemistry onscreen, especially when they banter. (The argument over motorcycles on a cliffside is especially fun.) Even so, the real stars of the film are Pitt and Radcliffe, who seem to be having the most fun onscreen.
With grizzled physique and smoldering eyes, Pitt’s Jack Trainer is the epitome of masculine stereotypes but the veteran plays the character with an ironic wink. At the same time, Radcliffe is having an absolute blast as the film’s over-the-top villain, Abigail Fairfax. Throughout his career, Radcliffe has always had a certain boyishness about him that somehow makes him less threatening even in his most villainous moments. While there will be those that feel that this makes his character less intimidating, the truth is that he fits the tone and style of the film so well that one can’t resist watching him indulge himself in the role.
In this way, City seems interested in addressing gender stereotypes but isn’t always entirely sure how it wants to do so. While her character is the most intelligent of the group, Loretta remains the ‘damsel in distress’ for much of the film. At the same time, Alan is held up as a masculine sex symbol who wants to be the one who does the rescuing. By the end, however, these tropes have begun to reverse. Loretta has gained far more confidence in her own abilities and strength while Alan becomes less concerned about ‘being a man’ and more about sensitivity, humility and openness. (At one point, he even questions whether or not he’s really the ‘damsel in distress’.)
Even so, the heart of the film is the notion that fear can hold us back from writing the next chapter in our story. Paralyzed by grief, Loretta has closed off both her life and soul from experiencing love and hope. Although she writes grand adventures, her life is quite the opposite. Content to sit in the bathtub with a glass of ‘Chardonnay on ice’, she’s disconnected from her heart and fears moving forward into the next leg of her life journey.
At the same time, Alan yearns to live in a story that isn’t his. Wanting desperately to be the hero that Loretta has been writing about, he tries to live up to standards of masculine strength that have been set before him by films and literature. As the two venture into the jungle together, they must grapple with the tension between reality and fiction and hope to find something new on the other side.
Fueled by a pervasive silliness and some charming characters, Lost City remains an enjoyable night of popcorn-munching. As such, while it may not be the best example of the genre, all is not Lost if you choose to visit this City.
The Lost City is available in theatres on Friday, March 25th, 2022.