The Mosquito Coast – Review (Spoiler Free)

mosquito_coastHarrison Ford surpasses expectations in this underrated and intriguing film

Peter Weir directing Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix is an immediately attractive selling point for a film, and The Mosquito Coast by and large lives up to the expectations that this grouping promises. Harrison Ford gives what I tentatively suggest may be the finest work of his career, the story of man striking out for a new life in the jungle with his family is interesting territory to watch and Weir’s approach to the film is strong and in some respects bold. But the script overall lets this one down a little by not digging for another depth into its subject matter and by not fleshing out its side characters as well as it could.

Ford’s character is an unlikeable, obsessed and rather cold inventor who we quickly grow to dislike, and he is excellent in the role. We can continually see his burning desire and yet it never feels forced, nor does it dominate his entire performance; we can still see the man behind the obsessive. Helen Mirren and River Phoenix are perfectly acceptable here, and you get the sense that they have a lot more to give than the script allows. They, particularly Mirren, are all too often silenced and although Phoenix does get the opportunity to do voice over narration at points in the film, we still don’t get a good enough insight into these characters and their feelings.

The Mosquito Coast has a lot to say about contemporary culture, nature, obsession and other topics and it does so with strong acting and assured direction. It’s a must see for Ford fans, and I would recommend to anyone who finds the premise interesting. The script does let it down in many ways, but it is far from being bad per-say, it’s just not up to the level of the rest of the film. Check the film out and let me know what you think!

Summary:

What is the film’s greatest strength?
Harrison Ford’s performance – it may be his strongest work on film.

Its greatest weakness?
The script is lacking; it meanders, never quite probes deep enough, and weakens side characters. 

Would I see it again?
Yes I would. This is a surprisingly underrated film which, whilst not perfect, deserves more attention.

Knock out your thoughts in the comment box below!

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26 comments

  1. Wow! I am a fan of Harrison Ford but was unaware this film even existed! I will be sure to check it out at some point! Sorry to say the script fails this excellent cast though.

    1. Haha well in that case you definitely need to check this one out then!
      Yeah I mean the script is such a long way from being bad, it’s just not quite up to the same level as the rest of the film. Thanks for reading!

  2. Interesting that what you suggest may be Ford’s best performance is in an otherwise fairly flawed film. It makes me wonder how much actors contribute to the success of a film. We know, of course, that a big star draws punters, but does a larger amount of the artistic success than we think depend on a performance? Blade Runner probably wouldn’t have been the same film if Johnny Knoxville was playing Rick Deckard. Anyway, thanks for another precise and thoughtful review!

    1. No problem, thanks for the nice feedback!
      It’s a very interesting question… I think a very strong lead performance can really affect your view of the film’s artistic success, much more so than at first may be obvious. A great actor often can make mediocre dialogue sound great, and can draw out further depth from their character than was really there before they took hold of the material. It can really skew your perception of the film as a whole I find.

  3. Nice review. I’m curious about this one now. Had never heard of it before.

    1. Cheers buddy, it’s very much worth a watch if you’re intrigued by it.

  4. It’s been a while since Ive seen this one but I remember liking it. I also remember Ford being very good in it. Good stuff man.

    1. Hey Keith,
      Glad to hear you liked it – you’re the only commenter here to have heard of it before I think!
      Cheers for stopping by!

  5. Will put it on my “to watch” list! Thanks – great review.

    1. Thanks Adele! It will be interesting to see what you make of it.

  6. I’ll join the ranks of the other commenters on here and say that I wasn’t overly familiar with this film before I read this review – rather backing up your point about it being underrated. It certainly sounds interesting, especially for Ford playing an unlikeable character and Peter Weir directing.

    1. Thanks for commenting Chris!
      Yeah it certainly seems to be one that not too many people have heard of! Maybe one day you’ll check it out? It’d be good to hear your thoughts as always!

  7. I’ve never heard of this one. Might have to look it up.

    1. I’d recommend doing just that!
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  8. Great film! Great review!! I haven’t seen this gem in a long whole but it’s my favorite “non-Lucasfilm” Ford movie.

    1. Cheers man!
      Despite Ford being better here, Blade Runner is still my favourite of those, but this isn’t far off!

      1. Blade Runner is a visually stunning, beautiful film. Frantic is another forgotten Ford gem.

        1. I haven’t seen, or to be honest heard of, Frantic! Will have to check it out.

          1. Polanski thriller. Honestly I haven’t seen it in almost 2 decades so I’m not sure how I’d perceive it either. I did like it back then though.

          2. Great, I’ll add it to my watchlist!

  9. Had never heard about this film till now but I’m intrigued.

    1. Great! I hope you check it out then.

  10. Great review! I want to re-watch this now as I haven’t seen it in years. I still miss River Phoenix to this day. : (

    1. Cheers! Yeah it’s such a tragic loss isn’t it. Such a shame.

  11. I somehow missed out on this movie, I don’t know how as I LOVE the cast. For, Helen Mirren and River Phoenix, wow I better watch this soon. I still miss Phoenix :(

    1. Well I hope you check it out soon then!
      It’s such a tragic loss isn’t it.

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