Reviews of The Mosquito Coast
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From the man who, a year previously to this, released Witness, another fantastic film helmed by Harrison Ford, this one is certainly no lesser being. Ignore any and all negative reviews you’ve seen about this film in terms of Ford being miscast because honestly, (and I’m not just saying this because I enjoy Ford’s performances in general) he seems like the best man for the role. Even some folks who’ve read the Paul Theroux novel this was adapted from have agreed that he makes sense playing the eccentric inventor who moves his family deep into the Central American jungle to build and live in a better society, away from the jaded and corrupt United States. Here he plans to create a life free from consumer culture, and build…an ice factory.
Obsessive and impulsive, but also enticingly persuasive, his family goes along with it and lo and behold, he does indeed build a massive machine that creates “ice from fire.” What makes this a fascinating character piece and movie in general is watching the saner aspects of Ford’s character peter away slowly, bit by bit. Soon enough, the audience finds themselves confused on whether to dislike this man who is inflicting unnecessary hardships on his family, or to feel pity for this man who will never feel satisfaction in life. This is where Ford succeeds in what I think is one of his best performances, creating such a multidimensional character that we actually care about what happens to him, even at his worst and most infuriating moments. Perhaps this character was too quirky for fans expecting someone of the Indiana Jones or Bladerunner variety, but I for one was extremely glad to see him take on something completely different.
River Phoenix plays Ford’s oldest son, wise for his years, and in complete admiration of his father. Here we have another interesting character study: just as we watch Ford’s sanity diminish, we also see Phoenix’s rose-colored view of his father become more rooted in reality, even growing to feel hate for his father. Helen Mirren does a wonderful job playing the conflicted wife, following her husband step-by-step with no hesitation at first, but then finds herself deciding whether to side with all of her children, or her husband (or what she used to know as her husband).
Very, very good film from a director we know to churn out fantastic looking films with consistently good stories, and an ability to cast his movies to perfection.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.