Robert Zemeckis has had a hand in some of the most popular and enjoyable movies to date, ranging from the Back to the Future films, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Forrest Gump. Cast Away is no exception.
Starring Zemeckis favourite Tom Hanks, Cast Away follows Chuck Noland (Hanks), a devoted Fedex executive who is shipwrecked after his plane goes down in a spectacular storm. The following gruelling four years change his life forever and make for engrossing viewing.
Reflective of his on-screen brilliance, the hugely likeable Hanks fronts the film almost single-handedly – if you don’t count his island companion Wilson of course. Despite the fact that Wilson may only be a volleyball he draws much empathy from viewers and many are as attached to his outcome as they are Noland’s. With the film having relatively little musical score much weight is put on Hank’s performance but, as usual, he delivers. The fact that filming was put on hold for a year so that he could lose the necessary weight so that his portrayal of the stranded Noland was believable proves the devotion of Hanks to his work.
Leaving behind girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) for what he believes to be a short business trip, Noland finds that he has to fast overcome his fears and lack of survival knowledge. His journey is a powerfully moving one. The problems he encounters are believable and sometimes a little close to home; when a tooth ache becomes too painful to ignore he must become his own dentist. The pain doesn’t end there and the countless scrapes and breakdowns Noland must go through in order to be fully initiated into island life are painstaking.
Hanks’ emotional prowess provides the right balance between complete abandon and optimism which makes for an evocative film. Although it is not a comedy, Hanks adds his usual charm to Cast Away and injects it with compassion and a subtle humour. But don’t let that fool you – there are some true moments of darkness, notably when we see the aftermath of his tests to see how best to commit suicide.
A film not to be missed, Cast Away is a true examination of one man’s endurance and how far the will to survive can take him. Imagine it as an answer-giving, simple-plotted, single-character-focused older brother to Lost and you’re half-way there.
Best bit: When Hanks rejoices when he finally creates a fire.
Best line: ‘Wilsooon!’
Best performance: It’s a toss-up between Hanks and Wilson.
Watch this if you liked: Lord of the Flies, The Terminal.
… and for those of you who wonder just what was in the package Noland doesn’t open Zemeckis has said that is was in fact a solar-powered and, more importantly, waterproof satellite phone… just don’t tell Chuck.