Peter Weir directs Harrison Ford, River Phoenix and Helen Mirren in this adventure drama where an obsessed inventor breaks from civilisation and transplants his family to the tropical wilds.
Any movie starring Harrison Ford was a pretty big deal when I was a kid. I certainly watched this too young and impressionable in the Eighties with no idea it was meant to be taken as serious drama rather than a Han Solo in the jungle adventure movie. I found stuff to enjoy in it then and I find plenty to appreciate in it now. Ford is working double hard to not just rely on his natural charisma, and while he shows his effort a little too obviously, it probably is his best piece of screen acting. Brave for him to play such morally dubious character at that point in his career. Someone so reckless with their family’s well being is such a rarity on screen… not quite villain but certainly not the all American hero we are used to. Phoenix is great as our point of view for all the madness that unfolds as paradise turns to hellscape. Peter Weir leans into his on location shoot and this proves a pretty classy psychological attack on Western values. The Witness team of composer Maurice Jarre and cinematographer John Seale guarantee this sounds and looks superb. An underrated gem.
Perfect Double Bill: Fearless (1993)
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