Castaway (1986) from ICMS

Gerald (Oliver Reed) is an older man who wants to go and live on a deserted tropical island for a year and write a book about it. He places an ad in a newspaper to find a young woman to keep him company and share the experience. The woman he chooses is Lucy (Amanda Donohoe), an attractive and intelligent young woman who is more than ready for any adventure which will allow her to escape the unbearable tedium of her civil service job in a London tax office.
On their first meeting they immediately, without realizing it, hit it off with each other, so much so that after a while they end up in bed together. For various reasons the Australian immigration services won't give them visas unless they marry, something that Lucy doesn't like but is compelled to do anyway because otherwise their plan would end right there in London and the film would be over.
When they finally arrive on their remote island, things don't go as they expected from the start. Gerald forgot some vital supplies and, since they decided to live in autarchy, they are facing un uphill struggle. Even building a decent shelter proves a burden, certainly for Gerald, who doesn't carry his weight in the daily activities that are supposed to keep them afloat. Lucy doesn't stop reminding him of this and they have some serious quarrels with each other, but in the end they always come to their senses, although they don't seem to realize it.
Things go from bad to worse. A tropical island without any decent resources proves increasingly nightmarish, but they do hang in, primarily because every time their needs really become desperate, there is always a sort of deus ex machina that comes to the rescue. When they need critical supplies, two Aussies happen to stop on the island to do some repair work on their catamaran. When they need medical treatment, two nuns/nurses happen to pass by in a boat with some natives.

Apparently the island isn't quite so remote as we were led to believe at the beginning.

I think that you are sensing that this film didn't give me the satisfaction that I had hoped for. The most frustrating aspect of it is the illogical behavior of the characters. Since both characters are portrayed as intelligent people, it is not credible for the film to portray them as unable to see the obvious fact that the audience can see immediately. They don't seem to realize that despite their differences they have a soft spot for each other, a deep-rooted respect, and even love. To give just one example: even though Lucy refuses to have sex with Gerald on the island, she doesn't do the nasty with the Aussie boys either, despite the fact that she and one of the guys were sexually attracted to one another. She stays faithful to her "husband".
Only at the end does Lucy realize that despite all their differences she loves this husband of hers. He, too, eventually admits to himself that he loves this wife of his. But when does he acknowledge that? When he is lingering in the tropics while she is already on a plane back to England! Would intelligent people who finally realize they really love each other simply let their partners get away? Furthermore, although we were initially led to believe that HE would write a book about the adventure, it is SHE who ends up being the writer, while Gerald settles down on a nearby island to live with the natives. So once again it looks like they weren't as cut off from civilization as suggested.
The movie is not without positives. There is the spectacular cinematography one expects from a Nicolas Roeg film, a decent performance from screen veteran Oliver Reed, and a truly excellent acting job by Amanda Donohoe in one of her first roles. She was completely in touch with her role and had absolutely no problems with the copious nudity required. It is crystal clear that she felt totally at ease with herself in the buff, as the part asked for. And why should she have worried about it? She simply looked great and was certainly aware of that fact.

Unfortunately, the raw clay of those positives is shaped into a film which is too long and which creates its substantial running time not with dialogue, which is sparse, but by padding out the very thin premise with repetitive situations and beautiful nature shots. This is a well photographed movie, and some scenes are truly beautiful, but the overlong shots of the spectacular island vistas slow down a pace which is already paralyzed by the repetitive action and lack of meaningful dialogue between the characters. And to top it all off there is the unsatisfying and illogical ending.

Maybe at the end someone should have said: "Logic is overrated", like Halle Berry's character in Gothika.


This film is not currently (January 2005) available on DVD in any region.

The information to the left is for a VHS version in North American (NTSC) format.



  • Amanda Donohoe's clothing status ranges from topless to stark naked during her screen time on the tropical island (after the first half hour of the movie). She is naked or topless for about 22 minutes of screen time.  
  • Oliver Reed can be seen naked near the end of the film

The Critics Vote ...

The People Vote ...

  • The film grossed $480,000 in arthouse distribution.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this movie rates C- on the Scoopy rating scale. Fans of Nicolas Roeg seem to like this film, but it didn't make much of an impression on nor sense to me.

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