Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks when working together, always manage to surprise us with something unique and lovable. A character that we can root for, cry with, and fall absolutely in love with their journey, we had that connection in The Polar Express, we had that connection in Forrest Gump, and I for one certainly felt that same connection in Cast Away.
A film that is entirely about one man’s struggle to survive, all alone in deep isolation, it’s a journey of one man’s battle to hold onto his own sanity when everything he knows and loves is nowhere to be found in the place he has found himself.
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The Movie Review
The story follows Chuck Noland, a young man who is a systems analyst executive for FedEx. Chuck’s job enables him to travel the world to resolve productivity problems at different FedEx depots in different countries. He’s a workaholic and doesn’t really do much for his failing relationship.
One day during the Christmas Eve dinner, Chuck is summoned to resolve a productivity issue at a FedEx depot in Malaysia. He gets on one of his FedEx planes and heads towards Malaysia with a crew of other people. However, when the plane is caught in a storm, a crash inevitably happens. With the only survivor being Chuck, he has found himself stuck on an uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. What will Chuck do in order to survive? Well, what wouldn’t he do?
Robert Zemeckis’ directorial talent for writing character EPIC films comes to full display with Cast Away. This is a film about a character in mental anguish unlike anything else, he speaks to balls and toys, pretending that he has a life and is surrounded by people on this empty, desolate island. Zemeckis’ talent comes on full display here, as we see a mainly dialogue-less film, with little conversations every once in a while that Chuck has with himself.
This enables our guy Tom Hanks to come out on top and showcase his true acting talents.
I’ll just say this right away, Tom Hanks is absolutely brilliant in this movie. This is by far his most heartbreaking, destructive, and powerful performance to date. He has done an abundance of good films, with a bunch of varied characters, yet nothing comes close to his portrayal of Chuck Noland.
I cannot express how much I respect his performance in Cast Away, the way he portrays the broken mind of this character is unreal. The constant struggle he goes through to keep his sanity in check, to keep surviving, to keep striving to live another day, the irreparable loss of hope yet a penchant for life, is magnificently acted.
The other most crucial aspect of this film aside from Tom Hanks’ performance is the cinematography. The film was shot on an island, so there wasn’t much need for a huge amount of production design. However, when it comes to cinematography, the crew faced a couple of challenges.
The first was a lack of lighting at night time, while the other was an overabundance of lighting during the days. This is why the crew had to shoot at alternate timings and create this sort of conundrum of unique, beautiful, and breathtaking-looking shots. The film has an otherworldly feeling to it, because of these camera tricks. It feels a bit different from what you would expect for a film based on real events, it’s artistic.
The Bottom Line
I cannot express this enough but Cast Away is a movie that you just absolutely have to see. It is one of those films that have everything going for them. Every single aspect of this film is created with the tiniest details etched into the narrative.
The one thing that I personally think is the main strength here, aside from Tom Hanks’ amazing acting, is the direction and pacing, which makes this film feel much shorter than it is. It is so well-paced that time passes by so gracefully while you watch it. It feels as if you’ve seen the whole film and no time had passed. There is just one thing I would have liked more and that is for this movie to never end.