Here’s one that I’ve wanted to review for a very long time. Cast Away has always struck a nerve with me because I am absolutely not an outdoorsman. But what if I was forced to be? Each time I watch this movie, I think about that and each time I get less and less confident. Oh well. Hopefully I don’t get stranded on a desert island. But now the review.
Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx employee who lives by time and always has his beeper in case business should call him to whatever corner of the globe. This puts some stress on his loving girlfriend, and soon to be fiancé, Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt). When his beeper goes off a few days before Christmas, Chuck thinks that this is just going to be a typical business trip. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Chuck soon finds himself on an island in the middle of nowhere after his plane crashes in the ocean after a freak accident. Now, Chuck must survive any way he can in hopes of returning home.
What’s most impressive about Cast Away is how well Tom Hanks carries the entire hour and a half mid-section by himself. That, I believe, is the true test of an actor. I was always taught in whatever theater program or class I was in that acting is reacting, but we always talked about that in respect to other actors. Hanks has no other person to react to, and must instead react to the situations and inanimate object for a big bulk of the film. He really gives a fantastic performance, which may be one of the best I’ve ever seen.
The whole concept behind this movie screams, “That would never happen to me!” Well, of course you say that, but no one plans to be trapped on an island. What I think the viewer must do for Cast Away to work at its fullest potential is put yourself into Noland’s position. His character never though that would happen to him, and it did. Once you start thinking about it, you’ll start to wonder what you would do in his place. How would you survive? Would you even survive? I’ve thought about this every time I have watched this movie and I have serious doubts about my ability to survive in that situation.
* SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT * SPOILER ALERT *
If you haven’t seen this movie, then don’t read this portion of the review, even though it is shown in the trailers, I don’t want to take any chances. Yes, he gets off the island. And, despite what most critics say, I find it a fascinating study of the difficulty adjusting to life after being away from it for so long. There are scenes that show Hanks’ character trying to interact with others, including Kelly, but having a difficult time. It is a portion of the movie that is criticized the most, but I think that it’s important to the overall story.
* THIS IS THE END OF THE SPOILER ALERT*
Unfortunately, there is a major flaw to this film. It is just way too long clocking in at two and a half hours. Let’s look at another one man film, Buried. This is a story about a man buried alive in a coffin and his attempt to escape. While different, it is still a movie that involves isolation and not a whole lot of dialogue, even though the character does use a cell phone. This movie is an hour and a half. I understand that Cast Away explores more themes than Buried , but that doesn’t mean that it couldn’t have been trimmed down just a little bit. I lose interest more than once during this long story.
Despite its overly long running time, Cast Away is still a movie that will stick with you. Is it over rated? Sure, I’d say so, but it’s still a really good movie. If you aren’t interested in the story, see it for Tom Hanks’ performance. It’s certainly not one of the best movies ever made, but it’s a lot better than most of what Hollywood produces. You can’t go wrong with director Robert Zemeckis, though.