Hope is about believing in the potential in us for a life that is greater than the one our frightened and limited ego has designed. It is like a Divine gift, or a treasure. while sitting at the edge of the ocean and gazing toward the horizon, many of us might have shivered to imagine being drawn out to sea, getting lost and ending up a tiny forgotten speck in the middle of nowhere. The heart-stopping island scenes that constitute the core of ''Cast Away,'' Tom Hanks, bring those visions thrillingly and hauntingly to life. He also has the hope, his only companion in a empty island.
PlotCast Away is divided into three clearly-defined acts: the setup, the main story, and the aftermath. Tom Hanks stars as Chuck Nolan, a devoted FedEx troubleshooter whose life has been taken over by his pager. He gets sent on an assignment on Christmas day. His girlfriend, Kelly (Helen Hunt), drops him off at the airport where they exchange Christmas gifts. She gives him a little clock with her picture in it, and he gives her a wedding ring, they exchange goodbye’s and Chuck gives her the obligatory line, “I’ll be right back.”
But, disaster strikes when his plane comes down and Noland is washed up on an uninhabited shore. No survivors except Noland, no ship to plunder, just a few strewn Fed Ex packages that wash up on shore, including the volleyball, Wilson.
AnalysisCast Away's finest moments consist of Hanks alone with his surroundings. Those scenes are simply, a testament to the man's serious acting chops. As Noland figures out how to survive against impossible odds -- from opening a coconut to making a fire to collecting fresh water to drink to dealing with a toothache. The actual experience of being on that island would be unfathomable and unbearable. To have turned it into a very watchable movie is unthinkable. And yet they've done it.
After a certain point, the movie fades out and a title informs that four years have passed. Mr. Hanks lost more than 50 pounds for this section of the film, and the actor's physical transformation is as startling as the fattened-up Robert De Niro in the later scenes of ''Raging Bull.'' Ultimately, Cast Away rests wholly on the strength of its second act and its leading man. The supporting cast, the editing, the camerawork -- everything else is completely swept aside to make way for our survivor.
The only other significant role has Helen Hunt. She's more of a supporting actor, but, despite limited screen time, she manages to develop Kelly into a flesh-and-blood individual, which is crucial to the movie's emotional underpinning.
The collaboration between Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks since the Oscar-winning Forrest Gump (1994), metamorphoses into something different and more compelling. Director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter William Broyles Jr. do a great job, by never copping out to cut back America to follow rescue attempts or grieving relatives. One has to give screenwriter William credit for his choice. To have Hanks talk to a Wilson volleyball for an hour says so much more about companionship.
Chuck Noland is a Robinson Crusoe for our times , but he's not a man out for adventure, but one who must continue to survive over and over again. A man who dies and is reborn again in a society that has all but forgotten about him. Cast Away is exciting, metaphorical and as emotionally draining as any film you will ever see. It is commercially accessible 'art' film.
Cast Away asks the crucial existential question, What does it meant to be a human? How do we cope with loss, hopelessness, and isolation, and still find the courage to face the next day?