Chuck, a top international manager for FedEx, and Kelly, a Ph.D. student, are in love and heading towards marriage. Then Chuck's plane to Malaysia ditches at sea during a terrible storm. He's the only survivor, and he washes up on a tiny island with nothing but some flotsam and jetsam from the aircraft's cargo.
We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing our track on time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Jetting off on yet another important task, FedEx whizzer Chuck Noland leaves his girlfriend Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt) behind just before Christmas. Disaster strikes during the flight and the plane crashes into the ocean. Managing to free himself from the sinking jet, Noland is washed up on an uninhabited island. Without basic modern comforts and fighting solitude daily, Noland must live in hope that one day he might be saved before he loses his mind or the will to live.
Tom Hanks (Noland) re-teams with director Robert Zemeckis after their hugely successful collaboration on 1994 awards stealer, Forrest Gump. Though Cast Away didn't win any awards (the usual cry of it being Oscar bait had preceded it) it can be argued to be Hanks' best performance. Few actors in the modern era could carry the film the way that Hanks does. Beguiling and drawing us into his loneliness, Hanks, with minimal dialogue (his only company being a volleyball that washed up with a few other FedEx parcels) excels with facial and bodily acting. Zemeckis, who should be applauded for the middle section and the terrifying plane crash that precedes it, puts Hanks' Noland through the mangler. The convenience of said parcels washing ashore aside, Noland is bumped bruised and dentally challenged, the Robinson Crusoe clichés exist of course, but Zemeckis and a heartfelt Hanks put us there on the island as well, with a pat on the back due for the excellent work by the sound department I might add.
Sadly Cast Away is bookended by not so great work. The opening character introductions are unremarkable but just about good enough for the plot set up, but the ending lacks emotional punch and defies what has been built up. Things aren't helped by Helen Hunt's lack of chemistry with Hanks, but that in turn is not helped by the writing from William Broyles Jr. since it's only really now that it's Noland that we care about. It's a bit churlish to complain too much though, because Zemeckis kept us on the island with Chuck, there was no cutting back to grieving family or fruitless rescue attempts. With that it was a truly fine one man show, even if that is something that ultimately renders the ending something of a let down. 7.5/10
Playtone, ImageMovers, 20th Century Fox, DreamWorks Pictures by Robert Zemeckis, William Broyles Jr..
Stars: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Paul Sanchez, Lari White.
Genres: Adventure, Drama, Romance
Keywords: exotic island suicide attempt volleyball loneliness survival airplane crash deserted island tropical island
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