Time is Running Out
Cast Away review
16th November 2011
A really excellent film which deserves more recognition than it is usually given (I've rarely heard mention of it since its release 11 years ago).
It is unusual to find a film with which you can engage so easily. The central theme of time is familiar to us all - the fear of missing time (everything has a deadline now) is balanced with its terrifying vastness. As soon as Chuck lands on that island you begin to think 'what would I do?', 'how would I cope?' and these thoughts draw you in. The fact that most of the movie is solely focussed on Chuck increases our sense of isolation and our fear of the vastness of time and the immense Pacific emptiness - testament to Hanks, but also to the writer and director. The ability to make that interesting is a feat in itself.
But this is not a typical Lost story, nor is it an episode of a Ray Mears' series - the focus here is not on how to survive on an island, but how to survive, full stop. Perhaps some of the psychological hardships are glossed over (particularly with Chuck's reintegration into civilisation), but it hardly matters because that's not what this story's about. Not all films about being stranded are Lord of the Flies.
The final reel is where this film really excels. Having invested so much in Chuck's life on the island, there's a very real sense of despair when he returns to normality. Yet the film avoids taking the easy route or letting us off the emotional hook too quickly. Don't we deserve a break? Life is not so easy. All we can do is follow Chuck's advice and hope.