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Cast Away

average rating is 3 out of 5


Joe Beck


Posted on:

May 1, 2024

Film Reviews
Cast Away
Directed by:
Luisa Guerreiro
Written by:
Luisa Guerreiro
Mike Archer

Autophobia is the fear of being alone and isolated. Being stranded on a barren, desert island is perhaps the most extreme realisation of that fear, and would no doubt likely terrify any human being. ‘Cast Away’, explores this fear and this state, as one man finds himself completely alone on a desert island, to mixed effect, and is at its best when it is most mysterious.


Desert island films and tv shows have been done to death over the years. From early conceptions of famous novels such as ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Lord of the Flies’ and films such as ‘The Blue Lagoon’ and ‘The Beach’, the popularity of desert island’s in media perhaps peaked in the early 2000s, with the now iconic TV show ‘Lost’ revolutionising television with it’s unpredictability and constant cliff-hangers at the end of each episode. There was also this film’s luminary, ‘Cast Away’, the 2000 Robert Zemeckis film starring Tom Hanks as he struggles to survive and make his way back home, befriending a beachball called Wilson in the process.


The strength in all these films lies both in the allure of the concept, but more so in the ability that it provides to create mystery. ‘Cast Away’, as written and directed by Luisa Guerreiro, finds its strengths in the same way. Our sole protagonist is Diggory Sambor, played by Mike Archer, a man who wakes to discover that he is on a barren shoreline, that though sparse is nonetheless beautiful due to the Guerreiro’s directing, which portrays the island as nature at its most simple and undisturbed. Immediately we are confronted with the mystery of how he has come to this place. Was he on a shipwrecked boat? Was he kidnapped and left there to die? Or was this the result of the greatest drunken night out ever? We don’t know and for much of the film we are left to enjoy this mystery. Indeed, it is to the film’s detriment that the element of mystery is discarded in favour of a metaphor and an explanation. It seems as though this happens so often in modern cinema, unless a truly visionary director is at the helm - i.e. Jordan Peele and ‘Nope’. When did we lose the ability to leave a mystery unexplained, and to lace that mystery itself with subtext?


There is another mystery at hand in ‘Cast Away’, that of a bright, shining light in the horizon. Is it a lighthouse? Is it a helicopter? Or is it, could it be aliens in a UFO? Again, this hinting at the possible supernatural is done excellently by Guerreiro for the first two thirds of the film, and then she feels the need to explain, and the allure and mystique falls apart.


We as humans are thrilled by the unknown, to remove that thrill in such a disappointingly mundane reveal of the truth is frustrating because by the end we now know too much. The thrill is gone and has been replaced by a mere shrug of the shoulders.

About the Film Critic
Joe Beck
Joe Beck
Short Film
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