Ask yourself this question: Would you see this if it didn’t star Tom Hanks?
The answer is no. Because without him, the movie probably wouldn’t have been made.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really satisfying film. Robert Zemeckis has the rare ability to instill a bit of magic in the simplest of images. With films like Back to the Future and Forrest Gump and, the director does not usually add an abstract flair to his shots, instead documenting the action as we might see it in real life. He finds the beauty in the ordinary.
The film revolves around Chuck Noland (Hanks), a workaholic FedEx employee, who is the sole survivor of a doomed cargo flight. He finds a way to survive on the island he drifts to, becoming emotionally attached to a lost-in-transit volleyball. (It speaks to Hanks’ and Zemeckis’s abilities that we feel devastated when Noland loses the ball, Wilson, to the ocean.)
There is never much of a question that things will work out, since you can’t kill Tom Hanks and still get your movie made. But Zemeckis makes you truly believe that all is lost, only to resolve the tension at the final possible second. Few storytellers can do it this well. What a beautiful motion picture.
Cast Away is available on Blu-ray and DVD.