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Cast Away (Robert Zemeckis) 2000

The trailer for Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away does more of a job spoiling the film than any review could do, so if you've seen that, there's going to be little to surprise you in the film's 2 1/2 hour running time.

The main thing missing in this adventure in island life would be a realistic resolution of the relationship between Hunt & Hanks characters (we're told she's been through a lot of pain, but we don't really see it... there would be wounds on both sides caused by the idealizations of each other that are completely ignored). The whole film is really a setup for Hanks' return to society, but that's the part of the film that gets least developed. Instead, we get Tom Hanks as a Boy Scout becoming one with nature (culminating in a truly embarrassing moment in which a whale swims up to Hanks and winks at him.)

During his stint on the island, Hanks implausibly talks to Wilson, a volleyball. This might sound refreshingly quirky, but for me it was awful (at the very least the moment where Hanks snaps & talks to him the 1st time was unbelievable). The film never really explores any of the psychological issues that a man that does such things must surely have.

The first 20 minutes of the film were awful, with Tom Hanks being the prototypical idealized American (bringing Elvis to the Russians, saving them from their own inefficiency, etc..) The casting of Tom Hanks appears to be the film's major characterization. The guy's obsessed with time, and loves his fiancÚ, but what else do we know about him? We're expected to assume he's an everyman solely by the typecasting of Hanks.

Those are all pretty major concerns in my book... I didn't HATE it, but it's hardly a success. I think that Cast Away spends roughly half its time off the island. It would be nice if the film actually created a believable set of developed characters for Hanks to interact with when he was off the island. I don't
think there are any decent characters in the film.

What *did* work for me was the decent direction, and the basic narrative. There's something inherently compelling about the situation, even if the movie screwed up on the specifics... I guess my basic complaint is that I've seen Fearless and The Sweet Hereafter, etc... , which deal with this sort of thing in a much better, more realistic manner. A traumatic event like this has wide-ranging emotional effects. Those interest me a lot more than how someone opens a coconut with a rock.

**

September, 2001

Jeremy Heilman