Friday, March 05, 2010
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
“Ice is civilization.”
Or so Allie Fox and his family would like to believe. Fox, disillusioned with American culture and society, takes his family into the jungles of Central America in an attempt to live a more genuine, simple life. According to his son, Allie is an inventor; a genius. As they live in the jungle, Allie shows the natives what he believes will keep them from being savages—ice. Although the natives appreciate their newfound ice machine, Allie’s behavior soon becomes erratic and he fails to see just how dangerous his lifestyle has become. When his family begs him to leave, Allie refuses to go anywhere but up the coast, and each time their home is destroyed, they still keep moving until, ultimately, the family decides to take a stand.
Interestingly, Peter Weir directed this film which stars Harrison Ford (both of whom, respectively, directed and starred in Witness). Ford and River Phoenix give incredibly powerful performances, and the entire cast makes it easy to believe that they are a family unit.
I decided to watch The Mosquito Coast because it is the only River Phoenix film I had never seen. The most striking aspect of the movie is its tragic nature (on multiple levels). It is difficult to see the destruction of a family in the same way that it is hard to watch a man’s obsession ultimately become his downfall.
The movie is not distinctly 80s. Aside from Emily’s fashion choices and Allie’s jabs at the Japanese, all of the other aspects of the movie suggest that it could be taking place at any time. Especially taking into consideration the idea that technology and consumerism are ruining the U.S., The Mosquito Coast could easily take place in 2010.
Though I enjoyed the film, this movie is not for everyone. Its quiet nature and slow progression of plot may lead some down the road to boredom. Although I haven’t read the novel on which the film is based, I do wonder whether its slow nature would make it a better novel than film. Those willing to take a chance on this movie, however, will probably be struck by the power it holds.