Lost in Karastan review – crazy caper with social-realist plausibility 

// 1st of February, 2016

Matthew Macfayden is a convincingly conceited director on the rocks who is seduced by a dictator’s offer of another shot at success

Award-winning film-maker Paweł Pawlikowski is here in a larksome mood, co-writing with Ben Hopkins this watchable satirical comedy about the international movie business. Hopkins directs, and together they split the difference between Borat and Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories. It’s a crazy caper about a washed-up British director named Emil Forester (Matthew Macfayden) who accepts a flattering invitation to attend a festival retrospective of his work in the comedy fictional state of Karastan. He arrives to find a bizarre and sinister shambles everywhere, and is disconcerted by his fellow guest, hard-drinking Hollywood B-lister Xan Butler (Noah Taylor). But Emil is intrigued by the president’s beautiful aide Chulpan (MyAnna Burling) and by the president himself (Richard Van Weyden) who offers him a lot of money to stay on and direct a state-funded epic about the history of Karastan, slanting the historical record in his favour. Excited by the chance to be a big shot once more, Forester towers over the action scenes in his camera-crane seat, like Peter O’Toole’s egomaniac director in The Stunt Man. Broad comedy this may be, but it’s well made and founded on a funky kind of social-realist plausibility, and the locations (in Tbilisi, Georgia) are rather amazing. Macfayden does well as the moody and conceited director, all too willing to suppress his misgivings about working for a dictator.

More info at www.theguardian.com