A feather is followed as it glides in the air. It seems to be searching for something or someone, looking for a place to settle. It finally falls next to the shoes belonging to Forrest Gump. Gump, played by the superb Tom Hanks, is sitting on a wooden park bench. He seems happy and content with life. A nurse gets off a bus and takes a seat next to him. It is then that Forrest Gump looks at her and utters one of the most famous lines in cinema history: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Indeed, life is filled with unexpected surprises and provides Gump with many of them. Aided by the excellent visual effects, he takes part in some of the most memorable moments in recent American history. In what is essentially a drama picture, Forrest Gump is also filled with a lot of funny and light occasions. Looking at Gump’s life across approximately 30 years of life, the film always gives us the feeling that we are growing up with Forrest. We experience his disappointments, joys, triumphs and sadness right there along with him. While most of the scenes are narrated, by Gump himself, it always felt natural, non-excessive and an important aid to the film’s steady progression. Not to forget the film’s score which is truly majestic and epic. In other words, a perfect fit.
The main heart of the story is Forrest’s relationship with the two most important women in his life, his mother (played by the amazing Sally Field) and Jenny (played by Robin Wright). Field, in a role she was born to play, offers Hanks’ Forrest the warmth, confidence and self-assurance that allowed him to overcome the obstacles he faced in his childhood. However, it is Jenny who steals Gump’s heart. The first time they meet, on the school bus, Forrest declares that hers is “the sweetest voice in the whole wide world!” Wright is simply excellent and believable in her role. She offers the character much heart and depth when there was always a risk Jenny would turn into a forgetful part of the story. Gary Sinise, in the best role I have ever seen him in, provides such a powerful and engaging performance that he steals every scene he is in, including those with Tom Hanks. That is an incredible feat and one that he should be commended for. Playing war vet Lieutenant Dan, whose soul is ravaged by the Vietnam war, Sinise never once overacts but instead delivers a mesmerizing performance that one does not forget easily well after the movie ends.
However, none compare to the truly outstanding performance that Tom Hanks provides in this picture. His ability to combine warmth, sensitivity, appropriate posture, manner of speaking and natural delivery results in a character who simply tries to live life as it is without any concerns or regrets. There are moments in which he delivers truly funny lines while acting totally serious. That takes some talent! Scenes highlighting this include those set at an anti-war rally in Washington D.C. as well as when Gump gets the chance to meet former U.S. presidents. There are also many heartfelt and touching moments that Hanks simply excels at with ease.
The aforementioned visual effects in this film deserve special mention. The filmmakers, lead by director and visionary Robert Zemeckis, were successfully able to recreate historical moments that are totally believable and fit perfectly with Forrest’s story. These moments include a meeting with former president Kennedy, an appearance on a TV Show with a Beatles legend as well as being a part of the American Ping Pong team that made the historical trip to China! The best part is that these scenes do not intrude or distract the viewer in the least. They are so well made that they hold up very well upon repeat viewings.
Rightfully claimed as one of the hallmarks of cinema, Forrest Gump is not just a film, it’s an experience. It is one of those great films that takes you into a journey of self-discovery. A film that has the great potential to make every single viewer a better person after viewing it. That is how much watching Forrest Gump affects me. To those who still have not watched it, do it now. You will feel great satisfaction and joy once you have.
- Tom Hanks (as Forrest Gump)
- Sally Field (as Mrs. Gump)
- Robin Wright (as Jenny Curran)
- Gary Sinise (as Lieutenant Dan Taylor)
2 hours and 22 minutes
Drama / Romance