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  Castaway His Girl Friday
Year: 1986
Director: Nicolas Roeg
Stars: Oliver Reed, Amanda Donohoe, Georgina Hale, Frances Barber, Tony Rickards, Todd Rippon, John Sessions, Virginia Hey, Sorel Johnson, Len Peihopa, Paul Reynolds, Sean Hamilton, Sarah Harper, Richard Johnson
Genre: Drama, BiopicBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 2 votes)
Review: In 1980, the middle-aged publisher Gerald Kingsland (Oliver Reed) placed an advertisement in a London listings magazine for a companion, but not just any old companion, he wanted someone to accompany him on his latest excursion. He hoped not only to get a book out of it, but also to have the holiday of a lifetime: a year deliberately stranded on a tropical island, the both of them, alone and fending for themselves off the resources they found there in the manner of one of Gerald's literary heroes, Robinson Crusoe. He had a reply from Lucy Irvine (Amanda Donohoe), who was bored...

Bored enough to leave behind her drab life in London and embrace the life of an island dweller in the South Seas, a place called Tuin, where she could find herself and draw on her skills to embark on a unique experience. Irvine was a real life person and this was based on her bestselling memoir of her early eighties existence as the castaway of the title, not be mistaken for the later, more famous Tom Hanks film Cast Away (note the space halfway through the name of that one to distinguish them). Certainly for those who liked to watch late night television, the sight of Ollie and Amanda wandering about the beach would be a familiar sight.

Though that was mainly down to the pulchritude of Amanda rather than her co-star, as she spent most of the film once they had reached their exotic destination either nude or semi-nude, making this a top movie for the excuse of watching it because there was nothing else on, oh it's not very good, but I'll just see it to the end, I'm not doing anything else at this time in the evening, and other such bluffs people tell themselves. Surprisingly for some at the time this was a Nicolas Roeg film made for Cannon during their British investment phase, for while he had not shied away from the sexual element in his work before, in this case the general reaction was that it was the merest step up from a softcore skinflick.

That in spite of the Lucy character refusing to have sex with Gerald for pretty much the whole film, and that being an important plot point to underline the far older man's frustration at being so near and yet so far to the object of his desire. They had been forced to get married so the local authorities were not scandalised by the possibility of relations between an unmarried couple occuring, but judging by Lucy's behaviour they had nothing to worry about. What those two should have been worrying about was how pitifully unprepared they had been for living in this situation, and malnutrition fast became the main issue.

Not that they were able to acknowledge their deteriorating bodies, which Roeg depicted in an interesting way, showing us the actors as normal - how the characters saw each other - and then inserted shots of how they actually were - dangerously thin and ill-looking. After a while, although Lucy came across as the more capable, it was the desire to see her companion made a fool of that seemed to be the overwhelming impetus for the story, with Reed apparently playing himself, or as the image he would like to project: man's man, chauvinist, randy, cheeky, all those roguish things. Once they had been established, they were dismantled in the face of his inaction, poor grounding in survival techniques, and refusal to admit he was out of his depth. So yes, there was the lovely scenery and Donohoe in the buff, but also a more serious questioning of how pampered the modern Westerner had been and just how much we need other people around if we want to get by. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Nicolas Roeg  (1928 - 2018)

An acclaimed British cinematographer on sixties films such as Dr Crippen, Masque of the Red Death, Fahrenheit 451, Petulia and Far From the Madding Crowd, Roeg turned co-director with Performance. The seventies were a golden age for Roeg's experimental approach, offering up Walkabout, Don't Look Now, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Bad Timing, but by the eighties his fractured style fell out of favour with Eureka, Insignificance and Track 29. The Witches was an unexpected children's film, but the 1990s and beyond saw him working mostly in television.

 
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