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Starring: Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Rated: M

CHUCK Noland (Tom Hanks) is obsessed by time. A troubleshooter with the US courier company FedEx, he roams the world making sure local agents are at their time and motion best.

During a Christmas Eve emergency dash to the FedEx office in Malaysia, his plane crashes into the sea. He is the sole survivor and is washed ashore on a remote island in the South Pacific.

Four years later, looking like John the Baptist and living on the Pacific equivalent of locusts and wild honey, Chuck gets off his island wilderness and goes home to preach gratitude for the things we all take for granted. Life in Memphis has moved on and his fiancee, Kelly (Helen Hunt), has a husband and child. It seems Chuck is all at sea again.

There are many things to recommend Cast Away. The plane crash is among the best disasters I have seen on the big screen.

There is little dialogue until Chuck creates an imaginary friend and so the audience gets a long period to enter the isolation of Chuck’s world and reflect on his condition. The attention to detail on the island is near perfect.

Hanks’ discipline is on display too. Whichever way they shot the island scenes he had to lose, or gain, up to 20kg so that the time lapse is convincing.

But it is the emotional range Hanks goes through in his desolation that gives the film its centre and interest. The entire film rests on these scenes working and Hanks is up to the challenge.

The dialogue and direction at the beginning of the film is so saccharine, that the crash is a welcome dramatic relief.

Unfortunately, when the story returns to Memphis, the film runs out of energy and interest. It would have been a much stronger film if Chuck stayed where he was for better or worse.

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