Peter Weir directing Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix is an immediately attractive selling point for a film, and The Mosquito Coast by and large lives up to the expectations that this grouping promises. Harrison Ford gives what I tentatively suggest may be the finest work of his career, the story of man striking out for a new life in the jungle with his family is interesting territory to watch and Weir’s approach to the film is strong and in some respects bold. But the script overall lets this one down a little by not digging for another depth into its subject matter and by not fleshing out its side characters as well as it could.
Ford’s character is an unlikeable, obsessed and rather cold inventor who we quickly grow to dislike, and he is excellent in the role. We can continually see his burning desire and yet it never feels forced, nor does it dominate his entire performance; we can still see the man behind the obsessive. Helen Mirren and River Phoenix are perfectly acceptable here, and you get the sense that they have a lot more to give than the script allows. They, particularly Mirren, are all too often silenced and although Phoenix does get the opportunity to do voice over narration at points in the film, we still don’t get a good enough insight into these characters and their feelings.
The Mosquito Coast has a lot to say about contemporary culture, nature, obsession and other topics and it does so with strong acting and assured direction. It’s a must see for Ford fans, and I would recommend to anyone who finds the premise interesting. The script does let it down in many ways, but it is far from being bad per-say, it’s just not up to the level of the rest of the film. Check the film out and let me know what you think!
What is the film’s greatest strength?
Harrison Ford’s performance – it may be his strongest work on film.
Its greatest weakness?
The script is lacking; it meanders, never quite probes deep enough, and weakens side characters.
Would I see it again?
Yes I would. This is a surprisingly underrated film which, whilst not perfect, deserves more attention.
Knock out your thoughts in the comment box below!