It is hard to believe that a film as beautiful as The Mosquito Coast [adapted from the novel by Paul Theroux] can also be so bleak, but therein lies its power and undoing. A modern variation of Swiss Family Robinson, it starts out as a film about idealism and possibilities, but takes a dark turn and winds up questioning the very values it so powerfully presents. There’s a stunning performance by Harrison Ford with firstrate film-making by Peter Weir.
Ford’s Allie Fox is a world-class visionary with the power to realize his vision. He rants and raves against pre-packaged, mass consumed American culture and packs up his wife and four kids and moves them to a remote Caribbean island # the Mosquito Coast.
Fox transforms a remote outpost on the island into a thriving community equipped with numerous Rube Goldberg-like gadgets to harness the forces of nature and make life better for the inhabitants. For a while it’s an idylic little utopian community, but the seeds of its downfall are present even as it thrives.
As Fox starts to unravel so does the film. None of the outside antagonists supplied by Paul Schrader’s screenplay are fitting adversaries for Fox’ genius.