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  • Gareth Crook

Cast Away (2000) - 8/10

I’ve been meaning to rewatch this since lockdown began. I love Tom Hanks and I remember really enjoying Cast Away. It’s been a long time though. I’d forgotten what an arsehole he is at the start of this. A FedEx company man, bringing American consumer impatience to the world. He’s a slave to time… something he’s about to have a lot of. Rushing off on business at Christmas, leaving his finance (Helen Hunt) he’s catching a plane to Malaysia… in a storm. It’s not a spoiler that the plane crashes, but it’s no less scary. The sort of thing that people scared of flying should not watch, with a great sequence that brings the opening act to a close. Disaster movie gold. Finding himself washed up on a desert island in his silly fair-isle sweater. He’s alone with nothing but some bits of washed up wreckage and FedEx parcels. The obvious thing is to put yourself in Tom’s, sorry I mean Chuck’s position. What would I do!? Chuck starts with help signs on the beach and learning to crack coconuts. It’s a movie so he learns fast, but not as fast as my 15 year old movie watching companion who impresses me with her armchair survival knowledge. The island looks beautiful, but rather inhospitable. I guess that’s the whole point. It’s Chuck’s struggle to survive, physically and mentally to retain some sense of his humanity… or to find some. Nature and script writers can be cruel, so everything is thrown at him from storms, to escape induced leg injuries. It gets a bit Bear Grylls, but Tom is way less annoying. We empathise as he struggles and succeeds, gets frustrated and makes friends with a volleyball. The Wilson character is heartbreaking and probably as important as any movie prop I can think of. It gives Chuck his voice back, someone to talk to, to share his thoughts and feelings with and in turn us. Like his infected tooth, which is pretty gnarly to see removed. This marks the whoa moment as were transported 4 years into the future with a now bearded, skinnier but more experienced Chuck. Do people ever say how great Hanks looks in this? I mean aside the hair and dirt, the guy looks great. A seasoned native of the island. Making it totally believable that he can create the raft that sees him leave the safety of his enforced home in search of escape or death. It’s a Hail Mary, but worth it for the shot of the whale and there’s some nice scenes out at sea, although I could do without the schmaltzy strings as he loses Wilson. I’ve mixed feelings about the ending. It’s both neat and messy, ultimately a reminder that you’re watching a Hollywood blockbuster, but it does do well to hold the thoughtful pace and does manage to dodge and weave around what could’ve been a really hackneyed conclusion. It really does hold up and is probably one of Hanks’ best performances.



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