Given that Paul Theroux's harrowing tale of jungle craziness is one of the least filmable properties of recent years, Weir's river journey to the heart of darkness works considerably better than one might imagine. Meticulously translated from the book, Mosquito Coast charts the mental decline and fall of idealistic inventor Allie Fox, who drags wife and family to the jungles of Central America in a doomed effort to bring ice to the natives. Although it's too long, with Weir attempting to negotiate too many psychological bends in Theroux's River of No Return, the director still manages to conjure out of the breathtaking landscape a genuine whiff of mental and physical hell, and in so doing draws from Harrison Ford a tour de force performance as mad Allie. Indeed, this is Ford's movie: Helen Mirren's flower-child-gone-to-seed wife and son Charlie (Phoenix), the heart and voice of the novel, are mere jungle shadows in comparison. Wherein lies the film's major flaw; for try as he might, after a lifetime playing the ultimate hero, Ford finally fails to convince as the ultimate villain, particularly when he's back battling natives à la Indiana Jones. A brave and serious piece of film-making, nevertheless.
The Mosquito Coast
Cast and crew