Starring: Matthew Macfadyen, MyAnna Buring, Noah Taylor
Genre: Comedy/ Drama
English film director Emil Forester (Macfadyen) is suffering from a creative lull, and so when he receives an invitation to go to a film festival in the small and remote country of Karastan he accepts the invite. Once there he learns the strange ways of this unfamiliar country and discovers the reason for his invite; the country’s leader wants Emil to direct a state-funded epic film that tells how Karastan was formed. Emil accepts, but as he learns more about this mysterious country, he uncovers some dark secrets that cause him to doubt if he is doing the right thing.
I know us Englishman can be grumpy when abroad, but there is no denying it can produce comedy gold when done well. Well, for the concept of Lost of Karastan writer/ director Ben Hopkins has certainly gone for the tried and tested concept of the fish out of water, and this is certainly a good foundation to use. Well things start off okay as our protagonist leaves his miserable flat in London to this unfamiliar country and becomes acquainted with its strange and somewhat backward ways. Macfadyen certainly depicts the confused/ annoyed/ completely flabbergasted expressions perfectly, but from a solid start and some amusing initial moments, unfortunately the film swiftly descends into mediocrity thanks mainly down to the fact that it does not know what kind of film it wants to be and tries to bite off way more than it could possibly chew.
Lost in Karastan initially has the feel of a light hearted, farcical comedy with very much a vintage, subtle English dry wit about it and it does successfully get this right for the first third. However then as our protagonist agrees to make the film and gets involved way too much with the country’s politics all of a sudden the film then tries to become a satire or social commentary. Worse still it seems to try and satirise both the modern day film industry and global politics. However it fails rather miserably at all of this mainly due to the fact that it has shoddy plotting; so many subplots and characters emerge, but it feels like the whole thing was made up on the hoof and the film slowly descends into a rather boring piece of nothing as it fails to see through any of its mishmash of ideas and themes. The final third offers no real satisfying closure to any of what has preceded it and just produces a feeling of unsatisfactory emptiness when watching.
After a while our protagonist finally realises what he has let himself in for, but it is a character that is sometimes hard to connect with or care about as he receives little actual development. When the film is light hearted and quirky it is certainly watchable and often amusing, but so many plot strands in the episodic final third seem badly thought through and some key plot moments are just casually shown and written with grating laziness. Lost in Karastan is very much a case of great concept but disappointing execution.
Despite its initial solid premise and some very amusing moments in the first half, Lost in Karastan is the victim of its own ambition and descends into an unsatisfying mess of a film.