Forrest Gump (1994)
Winner of 6 Academy Awards including Best Picture in the year that had heavyweights such as Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption & Disney’s The Lion King, Forrest Gump isn’t as impressive as the above-mentioned classics but its optimistic take on the unpredictability of life, stability between its genre elements, and a charismatic performance from Tom Hanks turns it into a cinema that’s as heartwarming as it is amusing.
Based on the novel of the same name, Forrest Gump tells the story of its titular character, a simple-minded, kind-hearted & good-natured guy from Alabama whose life turns out to be a wicked blend of luck & destiny as he steers through as well as influences some of the historic moments of the second half of 20th century America. However, despite accomplishing great things in life, what he covets most is the love of the woman he grew up with, who never reciprocates his feelings.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis, Forrest Gump is a series of brief episodes stitched into one wonderfully layered tapestry and is expertly narrated from start to finish. There are a few hiccups in between but it is a smooth adventurous ride for the most part. Eric Roth’s screenplay takes liberty with the source material but what’s admirable about it is its relentless focus on the central character. It does allow its supporting characters to breathe but only one of them has an arc that’s compelling enough.
Production design team does a stellar job in recreating the time-specific surroundings. Visual effects is extensively applied throughout the story plus its tinkering with the archival footages of some of United States’ most significant events of the later half of the 20th century was a VFX feat of its time. There aren’t any glaring issues with its camerawork. Editing fails to give it a tightly-knitted structure, while the background score & incorporated songs are in sync with the unfolding events & depicted timeline.
Coming to the performances, Forrest Gump features a dependable cast in Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson & Sally Field, and although everyone does well in their given roles, the film is powered by Hanks’ outstanding performance. Fresh off his Oscar-winning role in Philadelphia, Hanks chips in with another smashing work and is the soul of this tale. And he’s well supported by Sinise & Field who play Forrest’s platoon leader & mother respectively while Wright ably portrays the self-destructive life of his love interest, Jenny.
On an overall scale, Forrest Gump often gets a lot of flak for stripping both Pulp Fiction & The Shawshank Redemption off their deserving accolades but it does have a heart & identity of its own. I wasn’t very impressed by it during my first viewing but it has managed to grow on me over the years and now I do admire its positive outlook on life & the numerous mysteries it has in store. A delightful comedy, an emotionally resonant drama & nicely covering the themes of love, loss, redemption & stupidity, Forrest Gump is one of the best films of its year. Definitely recommended.