Lost In Karastan (Hopkins, 2014) – DVD Review

film reviews | movies | features | BRWC Lost In Karastan (Hopkins, 2014) - DVD Review

By Last Caress.

Lost in Karastan is a satirical black comedy written and directed by Ben Hopkins (The Nine Lives of Thomas Katz) and co-written by Academy Award winner Pawel Pawlikowski (My Summer of Love).

Its international cast includes Matthew Macfadyen (Ripper St., The Three Musketeers, Anna Karenina), MyAnna Buring (Ripper St., Kill List, Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn pts 1 & 2) and Noah Taylor (Shine, Submarine, Peaky Blinders). Shot on location in Georgia, it attempts a darkly humorous look at the film industry in the tradition of The Stunt Man (Rush, 1980) and Bowfinger (Oz, 1999). Released to VoD in January, Lost in Karastan is being released on DVD by Bulldog Film Distribution next week. So, how is it?


Down on his luck film director Emil Forrester (Matthew Macfadyen) is unexpectedly invited to attend a retrospective of his work at the International Film Festival in The Autonomous Republic of Karastan. On his arrival, the country’s benign yet massively corrupt President Abashiliev (Richard van Weyden, Ninja Assassin) persuades him to direct an epic retelling of the story of Tanat, the historic medieval hero and founder of the country, the part of whom is to be played by “Australia’s Greatest Action Hero”, the unreliable renowned drunk Xan Butler (Noah Taylor).

Faced with the challenge of a large-scale production, Forrester finds himself dangerously out of his depth, confused by the tumultuous politics of The Autonomous Republic of Karastan and also by the seductive charm of the beautiful Chulpan (MyAnna Buring), whose relationship with President Abashiliev adds considerably more complications than could have been anticipated. With local talent wrangler Ruslan (Lasha Ramishvili) taking Forrester and his production to ever more remote locations, Emil finds local villagers being “encouraged” by soldiers to take on various roles. Is he directing his way to the greatest picture of his career, or will it be a disaster for everyone concerned?


Hm. A queer one, this. Lost in Karastan wants to take a wry, gently dark stab at a story which, on the face of it, is initially painted with much broader strokes. I hate lazy comparisons but one is apt here: A mash-up of two Sasha Baron-Cohen vehicles – Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan (Charles, 2006) and The Dictator (Charles, 2012), made as a feature-length episode of Last of the Summer Wine. The premise of the movie itself is sound (if a little too busy) and the performances are all good – particularly that of lead Matthew Macfadyen and of Richard van Weyden as the menacing Karastan leader – but they’re all played straight and the script is unfortunately light on laughs. As a result, the tone of Lost in Karastan feels uncertain, leaving one to wonder by the end exactly what it wanted to be: Was it an unfortunately unfunny comedy, or an unfortunately insubstantial drama? It’s a shame either way because as I said, the idea for a smart comedy is certainly in there somewhere. The DVD by Bulldog Film is clear and crisp in audio/visual terms, presented in 16×9 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (with a 2.0 channel option), but has no extra features whatsoever.

[big_title2]Lost in Karastan is released on DVD by Bulldog Film on 29/02/2016.[/big_title2]

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  • Mark 24th February 2016

    Nicely written review (again). Doesn’t sound like my kind of film at all, but I’m always willing to give things a chance.

    • last.caress 26th February 2016

      You know when you see a film and, even though it wasn’t your cup of tea in the end, you can still recommend it honestly to other people who might like it? Well, this isn’t that, unfortunately. Swerve it.


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