Best Picture Profile: Forrest Gump

Directed by: Robert Zemeckis

Written by: Eric Roth

Company: Paramount Pictures

Runtime: 142 minutes

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One of the highest-grossing films ever to win Best Picture is actually one of the most hated winners.

The film is about Forrest Gump, a Texan boy who has a low level of IQ, setting him apart from the other children in their place. One child became his friend – Jenny, a girl abused by his father. They grew up together, but also got separated. In the process, Forrest gets carried away into history. He goes to the war in Vietnam, becomes an international ping pong player, and a cross-country runner, and with all of that, he still loves the only girl she ever cared for – Jenny.

Many people are complaining that the film is very unrealistic and far-fetched from reality, and guess what? It is. It is Forrest Gump. This is a fable, not an account from real life. The fantastical texture of the story makes the film, but at the same time ruins the credibility of the movie for me, but more on that later.

The screenplay makes the good and the mediocre in the film.

On the good side, it gives the film the emotions the story needed for it to work. It has a story, by the way, and it is actually quite involving. We see this character-driven plot about this special man who goes on an odyssey in the American history, and I felt for it. And Forrest’s story, no matter the stretch of believability may have been used, is still palatable. The scenes are still anchored with heartfelt exchange of words that gives the film a somewhat authenticated feel to it.

However, the screenplay also damages the credibility of the story. Sure, it was sometimes funny, and a lot of times, scenes of emotional heaviness are effective, but when you take a lot at it again, the screenplay oversimplified Forrest Gump the character, which is quite disappointing because thinking about it, the character could have been more developed and that would have made the film more interesting, but it just settled for making Forrest a symbolism, which is not really bad, but it could have been way better.

On the other hand, the direction is not bad. It provides a steady hand to the otherwise sparsely unreliable storytelling techniques the screenplay employs. It never goes overboard, and it is actually very subtle. It makes each scene worth the watch, if not really that good. So, with this, the direction is not the reason why I don’t like this film that much. Why? It’s as good as it can get actually. With the superficial approach of the screenplay to the story, the film adds the necessary shades of realism in the story that at least makes the film believable, if not entirely.

The cinematography efficiently captures the realistic parts of the material, giving the film the sometimes gritty, sometimes dramatic nature of the scenes. The editing adequately does its job of giving the flow of the film the ease and grace each scene. After I have seen the making-of of the film, I have learned to appreciate the importance of the sound in the film, so I like that. The music was great, as it was able to turn the film into a very effective tale of a man filled with innocence but full of love, and you can hear that with the music.

The visual effects are still a wonder, and I admit it was fun seeing Tom Hanks have interaction with these historical figures, but making sense out of it, was there really a need for all of those effects? I won’t discount the achievements of the effects because again, it’s all the fault of the problematic screenplay. The production design is equally as impressive as the costume design in recreating the eras where the characters have lived in.

Tom Hanks is actually very good as the titular character. First, let me say that he “got” the character and I believed him as Forrest. The acting tics are there, the rolling of the eyes, the accent, the body language – it is complete, he has fully realized the character, and I never doubted for even just one second that he was actually the character. He could be cute, he could be funny, but he could also be sad, and Hanks was able to play that range of emotions for the character without ever getting away from the character he is in. He is so in the character, and he also plays with his charisma, furthering his accessibility to the audiences. I am not passionate about it, but his work is quite excellent.

Robin Wright is also solid in her co-leading role as Jenny. Again, I said it, co-leading. She has the time of a supporting role, but her relationship with Forrest was the most important part of the film, for me, and she possesses the heart of the film. She hits all the right notes, she gives justice to the character, and most importantly, she undergoes a humane transformation that is really believable.

Gary Sinise is also good as the disabled Lieutenant. His struggles are very believable, and although his character is somewhat unlikable, he maintains the humanity in it which makes his character someone to care for. Sally Field is humorous and touching as Forrest’s mother, adding as much depth as possible in an almost thankless role using her skillful addition of facets to the character.

So, to wrap things up, did I hate this? No. I would never say that. It is an important film, and it is very accomplished. Some scenes have an emotional weight that really is effective. It was quite remarkable, actually. But the film’s biggest problem is also the reason why the film is this iconic: superficiality. I understand the reason why they went with that, and it is in the spirit of the film, but also, the film could have been better if they added more realism to it. Alas, this is a good film that is quite problematic.

For this, the movie gets:

3

Agree? Or disagree?

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