Arguably equal to the mortal terror and helplessness of a plane crash is being stranded on a deserted tropical island afterward. Cast Away sees this existential double-whammy befall efficiency expert Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks). With a delectable and often excruciating selection of scenes, Hanks captures the emotional, psychological, and physical struggles of a man marooned alone for years. The setup allows for acting both brute and subtle; Tom Hanks rises to the occasion. His Everyman affability (as in Zemeckis's other film, Forrest Gump) is put to great use. The results are gripping—who would have thought that a major film featuring a man talking to a volleyball for over an hour could wow audiences and critics alike?
The bulk of Cast Away is a tour-de-force rife with raw emotion. So when Chuck gets rescued and reinserted into society and acquaintances that believed him dead, a certain amount of triviality seeps in. Hollywood's eternal weakness—a love story—swoops down without time to develop, despite significant rapport between Hanks and Helen Hunt. The final section pales when compared to the vivid depths achieved by the castaway, alone, smack dab in the middle of nowhere. This film's journey takes place on the confines of a tiny Pacific isle whose metaphysical scale is immense.