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CAST AWAY

SYNOPSIS:
(This synopsis avoids details that may spoil the full enjoyment of the film’s revelations.) Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is a FedEx executive who travels incessantly – even at Christmas. Before he leaves his girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) on the tarmac for what is planned as a short, sharp trip, they exchange Christmas presents and hope to see each other soon. But Chuck’s plane never makes its destination, and Chuck becomes a lonesome castaway on a desert island far from anywhere. He has to use every ounce of his abilities to stay physically alive, and his love for Kelly plus his own spirit to stay sane.

"Despite some initial reservations you may have as you settle in to Cast Away, thinking perhaps that it should have been called FedEx –The Movie (a case of product placement meets reality anchor?), you will find yourself in the grip of a story that charts a course past Robinson Crusoe and into all sorts of stormy ports of the human condition. One that struck me as Chuck floats alone on an empty sea searching for a lost volleyball he had befriended on his desert island, was how deeply humans need relationships. Whether this was intended by the writers I can’t tell, but the production notes suggest they did. I mention this to highlight the film’s power to make you think as you watch: hardly surprising, I suppose, considering how much time we are alone in the loneliness of just Chuck’s company. In the end, though, this is a love story wrapped around an adventure story, rather like filming was wrapped around a year of Tom Hanks transforming himself from a comfortable middle American to a desert island survivor relying on his hands, some coconuts and a few fish. Hanks’ dedication knows no bounds, obviously, and it is a truly awesome task he set himself: and he succeeds at it fully. Technically outstanding in every way, Cast Away is a story of survival of the spirit, not just the flesh. The latter is easy, by comparison. The film needs to take its running time just as we need that time to understand the emotional investment the character makes, and to get a vague sense of time elapsing, which 90 minutes can’t offer. Come to this film with an open mind, and enjoy its compelling mood, its exotic, deadly danger-in-beauty-of-nature setting and Tom Hanks’ riveting performance."
Andrew L. Urban

"Gripping and involving, Cast Away is a compelling Robinson Crusoe adventure that explores the physical and emotional impact of being isolated. A story of survival in every sense, the film is a showcase for Tom Hanks, whose breathtaking performance captures every essence of the transformation of his character, both internal and external. Apart from the physicality and weight loss, the real change is of perception, and we are there with Chuck every step of the way – from the terrifyingly real plane crash to his struggle for survival and ultimate escape. There's something surreal about seeing Tom Hanks' character picking up FedEx packages washed up on the shores of the remote island. While the signs of civilisation are so tangible, reality speaks otherwise, and FedEx's 'live and die by time' motto takes on a very different meaning in this context. The biggest challenge perhaps to both Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis, is that great chunks of the film are without dialogue. Surprisingly, this works very effectively and by the time Chuck has established a relationship with his imaginary companion Wilson, we feel as though we endure every hardship with him. Much of the mood is set by the use of sound effects in the landscape: the lapping of the waves, the sound of the rain and the constant falling of coconuts. It's almost ethereal and by the time I left the cinema, I felt as though I had been part of an intimate experience. Beautifully crafted and shot, Cast Away works on many levels, and the fact that the script never falls into predictable contrivance is one of its greatest assets. The evolution of the story and how the characters behave is very real; no Hollywood gloss for this ending. Helen Hunt is wonderfully cast, and though her role is relatively small, her impact is felt throughout. Cast Away is a film we can enjoy on many levels. Engrossing escapist entertainment, it poses powerful questions about society that we could be well advised to think about. Sometimes we don't have the impact of a major crisis to re-evaluate who we are."
Louise Keller

 

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HEAR Andrew L. Urban & Louise Keller talk about the film in Real Audio.

CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

See Jenny Cooney Carrillo's interview with TOM HANKS

TRAILER

CAST AWAY (M)
(US)

CAST: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Christopher Noth, Nick Searcy, Viveka Davis, Valerie Wildman

DIRECTOR: Robert Zemeckis

PRODUCER: Tom Hanks, Tom Rapke, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemekis

SCRIPT: William Broyles Jr.

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Don Burgess

EDITOR: Arthur Schmidt

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Rick Carter

RUNNING TIME: 143 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: United International Pictures

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 22, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Universal Pictures Video

VIDEO RELEASE: June 27, 2001

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