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USA 1986
Directed by
Peter Weir
117 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

The Mosquito Coast

The story, scripted by Paul Schrader from a novel by Paul Theroux, of a middle-class inventor and idealist (Harrison Ford) who leaves the rotten US of A behind and takes his wife (Helen Mirren) and family to the jungle of Central America in order to start a new, saner way of life was critically well-received on its release but is now probably Weir's most forgotten film and undeservedly so.

No doubt the combination of Theroux and Schrader gives the film its depth but Weir, with his concerns with exploring the unseen dimensions of human experience, was a good choice as director. In many ways this is his Fitzcarraldo, albeit having the low-budget authenticity of that film and at times conforming overmuch to the dictates of mainstream conventions. It is nevertheless impressively-made whilst Ford, although no Klaus Kinski, gives perhaps his most interesting screen performance as a man whose burning intelligence is his downfall. Helen Mirren, better known for her sophisticated characters, is an unusual choice for the mother but in her understated way, is an believable foil for her overbearing, albeit brilliant, husband in what is at heart, crowd-pleasing action scenes aside, a convincing film about a family under pressure.




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