Friday, April 15, 2011

Cast Away (2000) [PG-13] ****

Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is an overworked FedEx global systems analyst who sails boats for relaxation. It's December, 1995 and he's flying back to Memphis from an assignment in Moscow, Russia. He plans to spend Christmas with his soon-to-be-fiancee Kelly (Helen Hunt), as well as to see a dentist about a badly abscessed tooth, but an emergency assignment to Malaysia interrupts his plans.

And then disaster strikes; his FedEx cargo plane goes down in a storm in the south Pacific, 400 miles off course. Chuck is the lone survivor and finds himself marooned on a desert island, without a radio distress beacon, in a search area twice the size of Texas. He collects and opens the FedEx parcels that wash up on the beach, and gradually rediscovers his survival skills - finding water, building a signal fire, catching and cooking fish and crabs. But as he painfully discovers, his island is ringed by treacherous reefs and towering waves, for which he and his rubber life raft are no match.

Four years go by, and with only his memories of Kelly and a human-faced volleyball named Wilson for company, Chuck has become resigned to his fate. And then the tide brings him a sail - two tall sidewalls from a plastic port-a-potty - and Chuck decides to build a log raft, use the tides and offshore breezes to challenge the reefs and the waves, and take his chances for rescue out on the open ocean. Tom Hanks gives an incredible performance. The film took nearly two years to make during which he gained weight for his early scenes, and then lost fifty pounds for his later ones. The sense of island solitude and loneliness is emphasized by the absence of a soundtrack; for over an hour we hear only the sounds of Nature, and Hanks' own voice. Cast Away is a quiet meditation that encourages us to contemplate our own life, to imagine how quickly and unexpectedly it could change, and to be grateful for the comforts and conveniences we each take for granted every day. 

Labels: adventure, drama, romance     
Internet Movie Database 7.8/10    
Metacritic 73/100    
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=74, viewers=70)     

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