Finding the D
The Lost City (2022): 9 out of 10: Burned out widowed author (Sandra Bullock) kills off her main character in an attempt to move on her with her life. But a secret in her otherwise standard romance novel intrigues a diminutive fortune hunter (Daniel Radcliffe) who kidnaps her. Her long time cover model (Channing Tatum) and his soldier of fortune yoga teacher (Brad Pitt) go to rescue her. Think more Romancing the Stone rather than Misery.
The Good: I want to talk a little about emotional intelligence. The Lost City, after getting some slapstick out of the way, exudes emotional intelligence. Not just in our main character, but in some of the side characters as well. Unlike most actual romance stories (cough Romance on the Orient Express cough) Our romance partners turn out to be three-dimensional characters. That while they have issues, neither is a crazed stalker or has the judgement of Khloe Kardashian. Which is a pleasant relief from both romance movies and romantic novels. (Also, no one is a werewolf, which is a nice change of pace from the books I have been reading (and writing) lately. Yes, there may be a werewolf in Snowcano)
I was recently writing about another film that is better than it had any right to be, (Alien) and The Lost City really kind of has that beat. This is one of the best romantic comedies in years. A definite homage to Romancing the Stone, it both captures the adventure and fun of that Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner classic while actually creating a story and characters that have an underlying depth and sadness.
Now I am a bit of a sucker for this movie. Like say Bruce Willis’ The Kid, I found a connection or two with the characters. I am a recent widower as Sandra Bullock’s character is, so I undoubtedly felt her journey more than most. Plus, though I am five years younger than Brad Pitt, we could be twins.
The adventure is very well shot and there are some good action scenes. The Lost City is genuinely funny in the slapstick vein that Sandra Bullock excells at. It is also surprisingly touching and Brad Pitt’s character has an arc that brings the movie and plot to a new level.
The Bad: Da’Vine Joy Randolph pulls off a role I swear was designed to irritate me. The fat “Oh hell no” best friend and business partner to our heroine had all the making of another Alex Borstein as the fat horny comic relief from Catwoman fiasco. It never quite reaches there and all credit should go to Da’Vine Joy Randolph because the script is not doing her any favors. (She doesn’t even get a romantic ending but a platonic one because Hollywood cannot imagine a fat woman wanting to have sex.)
Nope, the stickler is the plot line that her character has invested her life savings into this book tour on behalf of author Sandra Bullock. This makes no sense on any possible level. First of all, it is the publisher, not the agent, that would spring for such things. If the publisher, for some reason, was not paying for its own publicity, the author certainly would be footing the bill. I would expect a Hollywood movie to know how literary agents work.
The Ugly: Well, if I am going to pick on something, it would be Patti Harrison who looks a little old to be playing a Generation Z trope of a social media manager. It is a poorly written role to boot and Patti does nothing with it. On the plus side, she isn’t in the film after the first twenty minutes.
In Conclusion: There is a henchman named Julian. And crazed billionaire megalomaniac boss Daniel Radcliffe actually uses his name. Which is so out of character with bad guys in movies, they never really take the time to get to know thier henchman. You want to turn a solid eight into a nine on the score above. That is how you do it.
Unless they are making a horror film like Rest Stop or poverty porn like Slumdog Millionare, Hollywood hates ugly. Everyone in ancient Rome has great teeth and the streets of Victorian London are not covered in horse shit.
Every frame of The Lost City looks like a romance novel cover. But to its credit, it really is on point. The movie is a real life recreation of a romance novel complete with outrageous plot, exotic locales and enemies to lovers age gap romance.