Featuring a unique performance by Harrison Ford, this adaption of Paul Theroux’s novel is the next title on the What Else to Watch list in DK Canada’s The Movie Book following its recommendation of Aguirre, Wrath of God.
Featuring an all-star cast alongside Ford, including River Phoenix, Helen Mirren, Martha Plimpton, Peter Weir directs Ford in the role of Allie Fox. Fox is an inventor, a misanthrope and an angry man who is tired of consumerism of America, the false religion, and the perceived collapse of society.
He is angry, unbearable, and clashes with everyone who doesn’t agree with him. He’s had enough of the ‘paradise’ of the States and decides to pack up his family, flee America and live in Central America.
Ford takes a chance, taking on a role that is very against type. Fox is largely unlikable, it’s his family that humanizes him. His wife, Mother, played by Mirren, and his two sons, Charlie (Phoenix), Jerry (Jadrien Steele), and his two young daughters, April (Hilary Gordon) and Clover (Rebecca Gordon) but even they chafe against Fox and his dream as they confront the realities of the jungle they live in, and a missionary (Andre Gregory) he conflicts with.
There’s a relationship between Charlie and Allie that is central to the film, and that is the heart of the story, even as Allie seems to go further and further over the edge. As long as Charlie believes in his father, things will be fine, but when his faith starts to be shaken by things that happen and his father’s increasingly erratic behavior doubts begin to arise, and nature may break the man before it’s over. Or he may break every part of his family wide open as things become more dire as their little piece of paradise is taken away from them and his actions become more brusque and dangerous.
He slowly becomes filled with so much anger over things that no one is safe, and he is barely recognizable as the man they all loved.
Featuring a gentle score by Maurice Jarre, the film is stunning to look at with some beautiful location work.
I think the years have been kind to this film. When it first came out, Fox was so contrary to all of Ford’s other roles that people didn’t want to see it. Now, as time has gone by, I find that it really works, and is a solid film.
Weir shoots his films beautifully, there is always a gentle poetry to his images and style and this one is a fine example of his work.
in the end it’s a different type of film for Ford, and one that I think will improve with age. But don’t take my word for it, pick up a copy of DK Books’ The Movie Book and find a new favorite classic to watch tonight.