Hanks's One Man Show
"Cast Away" is one of the few movies which I have watched purely on who was starring in it, and I am glad I did. Tom Hanks puts in a first rate performance as the stranded Chuck Noland and one of his best since he wowed audiences with his touching performance in "Philadelphia", not only because for 90% of the movie he is the only person in it, but also his ability to realistically convey so many different emotions.
Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks - The Green Mile) works for FedEx as a systems engineer, travelling the world at a moments notice, sorting out the companies distribution problems. His life is ruled by the clock, as he always has to be going somewhere meeting the company's deadlines, leaving his poor girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt - Pay It Forward) behind. Chuck's hectic life soon comes to an abrupt halt when a FedEx cargo plane that he is travelling on crashes at sea, leaving him washed up on an uninhabited island in the middle of nowhere. With only the clothes he is wearing, a volley ball and a few washed up packages from the crash, he has to learn how to survive.
Despite the plot of "Cast Away" being quite simplistic and in many ways some what predictable, it is all the little sub-stories which make the movie so engrossing. You have his pseudo relationship with the volley ball he names Wilson, his attempts to make fire, illness and so on all making up little interesting chapters in his life on the island. All of these little stories combine to make a very powerful movie which shows man's dependencies on modern life but when these things are removed his natural survival instinct is shown.
As already mentioned the star of "Cast Away" is Tom Hanks who puts in a virtuoso performance as Chuck Noland, the man stranded on the remote island. Hanks lost an amazing fifty pounds during the making of "Cast Away" to make his appearance look more in line with what you would expect from someone who had been stranded for 4 years. The movie really demonstrates what a talented actor Hanks is as he convincingly demonstrates feelings such as despair, anger, pain to name just a few. As he goes on his journey of survival we see some very powerful yet simple scenes, such as when he creates fire for the first time, or when he has to deal with a nasty dental problem which will undoubtedly make you cringe.
The next most important character in the movie is Wilson, a volley ball. Okay, so a volley ball is not an actor, but Wilson is such an important part of the movie, as Chuck turns the ball into a character who he talks too. Wilson actually takes on the character of Chuck's conscience and ends up having arguments as he battles his day to day tribulations. Interestingly, they actually wrote dialogue for Wilson which was spoken by a crew member to assist Hanks in creating a realistic conversation with the ball.
The real supporting cast only appear in the opening and closing scenes of "Cast Away" and includes the likes of Helen Hunt and Nick Searcy. Although they don't appear on screen for long, the performances from the supporting cast are solid and help to create the character of Chuck both before and after being stranded.
"Cast Away" is directed by Robert Zemeckis who also worked with Hanks on "Forrest Gump". It seems to me that when these two get together they manage to pull out a bit of magic from each other. Although Zemeckis has created a very choppy movie, this actually helps as it stops it from being to drawn out and ultimately boring. The movie is actually set over 4 years, so it had to be created in the choppy manner so that it showed the important bits from each year, rather than concentrating on just one part of it. Another amazing fact is that for the duration of the movie whilst Nolan is stranded on the island, there is no soundtrack, you don't notice this to start with.
What this all boils down to is that for some "Cast Away" is over long and self indulgent, personally I feel that it is a very good movie which has a great message and is also very enjoyable to watch. The movie is a mixture of drama, action and at times is very sad and sentimental.