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Forrest Gump

January 6, 2014

Forrest Gump (1994)
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Actors: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise

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Synopsis: While sat on a park bench in Savannah, Georgia, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) recounts the story of his life…

Review: Only in America could you envision having a film with the arch conceit of a simpleton acting as conduit through a great swathe of that country’s socio-history, and for it not to be (intentionally anyway) a colossal satire and farce. And although Forrest Gump is a lightly comic film and does have one or two moments of soft, cultural self-reflection, let’s be in no doubt that in the overarching, epically schmaltzy tone and end-destination of the narrative, this is a deeply inward picture, that inherently avows the conservatism and isolationist ethos of smalltown America. And by ‘conservatism’, I refer not only to content, but the sentiment seeping through the film’s overall style and aesthetic. Forrest Gump contains perhaps the most intrusive, odious and patronising music score in the entirety of cinema, and the action is perpetually cloaked in a sort of saccharine, honey-dewed gleam, which betrays the film’s bent in mythologising the sanctity of the American ‘little man’.

Some people will accuse me of lacking a sense of humour, and don’t get me wrong, on a purely fablistic, dramatic level, the film has some cogency, but, for example, I don’t take Forrest Gump bumblingly upstaging various Presidents as in any way radical, but more apotheosis of the film’s distrust of politics and big government, and valorisation of the core decency and self-sufficiency of its all-American heroes. Also, Forrest Gump anticipated a growing trend in our contemporary popular landscape, whereby there’s a huge public appetite for cultural nostalgia, no matter how blithely and cynically used. (January 2014)

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