This may be the most interesting movie of the year. Cast
Away is not your average Hollywood Blockbuster that you'd expect seeing
Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt starring in a movie directed by Robert Zemeckis.
It has the feel of small, Indie film. I will try not to tell too much because
even though there aren't any surprise plot twists or surprise endings,
this movie does surprise you over and over. This much I can tell since
everyone in the world has seen the trailer by now. There are really only
two characters that matter in this movie and one of them isn't on the screen
for about 90% of the time. Tom Hanks plays an efficiency expert for Fedex
and his whole world revolves around making the most out of every second.
He lives with the love of his life (Helen Hunt) who is a PhD student about
to defend her thesis. Hanks gets an emergency call just before Christmas
and has to jet off across the Pacific. She gives him an old pocket watch
with her picture in it. As Hanks leaves, he asks Hunt to marry him.
The plane crashes after being off course and Hanks washes up on a small
tropical island far away from where anyone thinks the plane went down.
So he is stranded. We now follow Hanks life for the next four years he
spends on the island. And here is where this film begins to diverge
from the path taken by every similar movie made previously. The story
stays with Hanks for the whole time he is on the island. Rather than
follow the story of the search for him and the story of his girlfriend,
we know nothing about what's happening in the outside world. So we feel
Hank's isolation very strongly. Another difference is that this is
the first lost-on-a-desert-island story, including the recent Six
Days Seven Nights, where no pirates attack the island at any time in
the movie! Hanks is totally alone on the island with nothing but a few
Fedex packages that washed up with him to help him survive. His now-broken
pocket watch becomes a metaphor for his life. On the island, time
stands still for him and for us as he gazes at the picture of Hunt. He
brings a terrible feeling of yearning to the screen in Cast Away.
It is really a very simple story. There is almost no action other than
the plane crash. Everything moves along very slowly but it is compelling
and it draws you in until you feel you are living Hank's life. I wanted
to stay and watch it again when it was over. Much of this is due
to the minimalist direction of Zemeckis, well known for Romancing
the Stone, Back to the Future,
Who Framed Roger Rabbit,
Forrest Gump, and Contact.
I love Tom Hanks and this is another fantastic role for him in a series
of fantastic roles including Sleepless
in Seattle, Philadelphia,
Forrest Gump, Apollo
13, and Saving Private Ryan.
Helen Hunt is amazing here and even though she probably spends less than
10 minutes on the screen, there's a million times more chemistry between
her and Hanks than she had with Mel Gibson in What
Women Want. I won't say too much but you know that Hanks gets
rescued and has to go back to a world that has gone on without him for
four years. The scenes at the end when Hanks returns home are heart-wrenching
and among the most romantic I've ever seen. I read another review that
commented that there is another character in the movie, Fedex. This is
the ultimate product placement film and Fedex is doing something that is
never done which is to show something bad associated with their product.
It's a Fedex plane that crashes with Hanks on board. But I think they were
right to do it. Fedex is an integral part of this movie from beginning
to end and one gets a nice feeling of them as a company. When he's
stranded on the island, Hanks keeps one Fedex package unopened, hoping
to deliver it one day. After you see the movie, you may have the
same question that I have, "What's in the damn package?" You may not like
Cast Away as much as I do but this is a disturbing, different film. For
one thing, it may be the first film where a volleyball gets an Oscar nomination.
It isn't an easy film to watch but go and see it.