EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|CASTAWAY (director: Nicolas Roeg; screenwriters: from the book "Castaway" by Lucy Irvine/Allan Scott; cinematographer: Harvey Harrison; editor: Tony Lawson; music: Stanley Myers; cast: Oliver Reed (Gerald Kingsland), Amanda Donohoe (Lucy Irvine), Georgina Hale (Sister Saint Margaret), Frances Barber (Sister Saint Winifred), Tony Rickards (Jason), Todd Rippon (Rod), Virginia Hey (Janice); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rick McCallum; Warner Home Video; 1986-UK)|
|"Despite all its short-comings, Roeg
never lets things get dull--his camera sees to that."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Nicolas Roeg ("Performance"/"Walkabout"/"Don't Look Now")
directs this absurdly fascinating erotic Robinson Crusoe island
adventure film that explores a
modern marriage between strangers over the span of a year. It's based
on two Australian non-fiction best-sellers -- Lucy
Gerald Kingsland's The Islander.
The eccentric, beer-bellied,
scruffy, divorced, middle-age Londoner Gerald Kingsland (Oliver Reed)
advertises in the classifieds of
Time Out magazine, as a writer looking for a wife to live with him for
a year on a deserted tropical island. Gerald is a fun-loving big teddy
bear of a man, who wants his soulmate to not only
screw but 'to cook, sew and put up a tent.' The invite is accepted by a bored fellow
Londoner, the much younger twentysomething Inland Revenue clerk Lucy
Donohoe), looking to leave the city rat race and for the
experience to be one of self-discovery. Though Lucy objects about
getting married to satisfy the antiquated immigration law, she eventually agrees.
The expenses paid by Gerald's publisher in anticipation of a book to
come out of this unique trip are quickly spent and Lucy has to pitch in
with some of her money, since Gerald is broke.
The ill-matched couple, with different dreams about
paradise, land on Tuin Island (between
Guinea and Australia), and are overwhelmed with
their weird situation (at least she is), the emptiness and the
beautiful serene landscape. After trying to make things work, Lucy gets
turned off by her partners laziness and failure to build a shelter and
inability to get into the part that interests her the most--learning to
survive as a primitive. To teach him a lesson, she refuses to go to bed
with him any more.
There's nothing to do on the island but fish and walk
around bare assed, as their thirteen months together quickly passes and
since they're all alone without distractions the year seems like a
lifetime of marriage (carrying with it all the bad baggage). Their
dreams of escape from their former
shitty lives evaporates with their new reality, as
their paradise is no longer seen as utopia. But the
crass Gerald dreams on about a paradise island adventure and
remains on a nearby island with the friendly natives, where he opens a
workshop as a small engine repairman; Lucy, instead, returns to
London alone (maybe a bit wiser!).
The scenery is lush; the performances are wonderfully
nuanced, and it's interesting to watch the couple change personalities
and appearances within the year. Roeg somehow salvages this shipwreck
of a plotless story about a daring romance turning sour by playing
things straight and letting us see the couple in both their happy
moments (screwing, not involved with the ugly affairs of the world and
escaping from London's high crime rate) and bitter moments (crabby
spats, Gerald coming down with a foot infection, and Lucy becoming
It's hard to believe such an odd adventure story really
happened, except we know it's based on actuality. Despite all its short-comings, Roeg never
lets things get dull--his camera sees to that.
REVIEWED ON 6/21/2010 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ