An easy film to admire artistically but a difficult one to like, this intense character drama is one of the most challenging to audience expectations to ever emerge from star Harrison Ford or director Peter Weir. It should come as no surprise that it sprung from the pen of Paul Schrader, an artist adept at fashioning cinematic portraits of societal misfits. Ford is searing and powerfully memorable as Allie Fox, one of his best roles, an iconoclastic perfectionist who may very well be mentally ill, but who insists, in the style of many a creative genius before him, on doing everything in life on his own eccentric, tunnel-vision terms. Ford gets able support from Helen Mirren as his much-beleaguered wife and especially young River Phoenix as his son, whose sexual coming of age and one-time worship of his brilliant dad is thwarted by the realization that Allie's autocratic, self-centered vision of a utopian existence is not only foolhardy, but dangerous. There isn't much onscreen with which an audience might identify, so The Mosquito Coast faced an uphill and losing struggle at the box office, but its superior performances and potent political symbolism make it a worthy companion to other such "bungle in the jungle" films as Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979).
by Karl Williams review