Don’t have a lot of time today, unfortunately, so I won’t get into the kind of detail I’d like to. This is definitely worth seeing, though I believe it to be within a certain state of mind.
[WARNING: General spoilers contained throughout the (albeit short) post]
Perhaps this is something only relevant to myself, but sometimes films have a sort of “educational” vibe to them. Pictures that provide a moral message, presented in a kinda-sorta general audience fashion that features characters in an exaggerated state. Things like Lord of the Flies or To Kill a Mockingbird; a presence of importance that permeates through each tensile scene. The Mosquito Coast is something I feel follows along those lines, even if not quite as effective.
The mission is power. Pursuit of knowledge and independence. To go beyond what is rationally possible in the hopes of obtaining results… only to strive for more. A cyclical urge to build, create—feeding off the energy of the journey, the effort in making something real. Harrison Ford’s character is the embodiment of human curiosity gone awry, pushing for grander pastures in an arrogant desire for self-fulfillment. This makes or breaks the film, as there’s not much else to identify.
With these “educational” types, any character development or complexity is mostly shot in favor of the overall message or plot. Helen Mirren’s character doesn’t even have a name—simply referred to as “Mother.” What does she do for the entire course of the film? Follow Ford’s lead, with only glances backwards until the very end, without anything more than some throwaway lines to identify her personality. The same can be said about most of the characters, as Ford does a large majority of the talking, and the narrative progresses through his actions. I said in just the last post that sometimes one has to decide whether an asshole is worth the trouble or if an asshole is an asshole. Here, the asshole has a fixture in the larger moral picture, rather than a vulnerable lead that simply needs to grow.
To simplify it down even further, one could use a famous Jeff Goldblum quote from Jurassic Park: “They were so busy wondering if they could, that they never stopped to consider whether or not they should.” Probably off by a few words, but the point is obvious. Much can be made about human history through this film, and the dangerous lengths one will go to to enable their independence. I think it’s worth quite a bit through this specific lens, though if one were to watch this casually, they may not get much out of it. Characters aren’t interesting outside the deeper connotations to their roles, and aside from some memorable moments of bombast, it can be rather dry. For those that apply, just consider this: Did you like the (non-documentary style) films you were shown in middle/high school, which correlated with the lesson plan? That will determine what you’ll get out of this.
Final Score: 7/10
The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.
For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!
Thank you for your time. Have a great day.
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