Lost in Karastan
dir Ben Hopkins
prd Mike Downey, Sam Taylor
scr Ben Hopkins, Pawel Pawlikowski
with Matthew Macfadyen, MyAnna Buring, Noah Taylor, Richard van Weyden, Lasha Ramishvili, Umit Unal, Dato Velijanashvili, Maria Fernandez Ache, Leo Antadze, Ali Cook, Amiran Katchibaia, Vedat Erincin
release UK 22.Jan.16
14/UK 1h36
Lost in Karastan
The people are revolting: Macfadyen

buring tayklor
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Lost in Karastan A knowing comedy about the moviemaking and film festivals, this lively satire is packed with hilarious details and nutty people. It starts well, with a strong story that combines amusing situations with likeable characters. But as it progresses, there's a sense that it's not heading anywhere terribly interesting, and the murky final act is a let down.

Oscar-winning filmmaker Emil (Macfadyen) is struggling with writers' block in the wake of his split from his actress wife. Then he's invited to a film festival in the Central Asian republic of Karastan, which is screening a retrospective of his work. Once there, he immediately starts flirting with his liaison Chulpan (Buring), while the authoritarian President Abashiliev (van Weyden) asks him to adapt the country's most iconic legend into an epic movie. With famed actor Xan (Taylor) in the lead, Emil wades into the project and finds himself in the midst of a rebel uprising.

The set-up is packed with hilarious details that reflect the reality of the industry, from the often inexplicable attitudes of foreign fans to the random nature of funding. Not to mention reverence for filmmakers and actors who back home are either ignored or seen as oddballs. The plot's political angle is much wackier, playing on stereotypes for comical effect. So as the story progresses, the film becomes less grounded in resonant observation, shifting into what feels like a pointless farce.

Macfadyen plays it well, although his mopey character has virtually nowhere to go once the premise is established. Emil has lived on his past accolades far too long, so it's difficult to see even a hint of his talent. Buring has a bit more fun as a woman who always seems to have more going on than anyone knows. Taylor chomps mercilessly on the scenery, but is often more annoying than funny. And smaller side roles have their moments, filling in the edges with entertaining detail.

But as things develop, the film feels increasingly improvised, as if the cast and crew were making it up as they went along, without a clue where they were heading. So it's difficult to maintain interest in anything that happens. There are plenty of clever gags and pointed scenes that play with the various ideas swirling around in the movie. But nothing ever quite comes into focus, so in the end it almost feels like the filmmakers are laughing at the audience for not getting their joke.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 26.Nov.15

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... Lost in Karastan Still waiting for your comments ... don't be shy.
© 2016 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall