My life is waiting, usually for the next Spielberg picture, since I know that
he is most likely to deliver an enjoyable film with tear-jerking drama,
charming romance, loveable characters and flourishes of delightful humour.
The Terminal has all of these qualities and flies high from beginning to
end. Here’s why:
The story is loosely based on the real life ordeal of Mehran Karimi Nasseri
who, like Viktor Navorski (Tom Hanks), was left stranded in an airport
with no means of getting out. Viktor arrives at New York’s JFK
just as civil war breaks out in his homeland. With no money, he
has to find a way to feed, bathe and entertain himself, all in the confines
of the terminal.
Another thing Viktor has to do is learn English. He does this with the hope of
being able to read the CNN headlines, in order to understand the developments
occurring at home. Throughout the film, his English improves gradually,
which brings credit to both Hanks and Spielberg as they make a difficult to
craft transition flow with the greatest of ease.
The supporting cast on hand to compliment Hank’s believable and touching
performance are a joy to watch, the range of characters delivering a range
of subplots which take off with interesting tension and touch down with a
feeling of fulfilment. Stanley Tucci is on top form, skilfully removing the
audience from him (as to be a successful bad guy), whilst making us laugh at
the same time. Catherine Zeta-Jones is not given a great deal to do, but
since she swoops in and out of the plot, her ability to draw the audience in
Spielberg’s direction is delicate, but very relaxed. This is Viktor’s story
and he is in no rush to tell it, which will bother some viewers. The slow
pace does not hinder the film, however, as this allows room for character
development rarely seen in other movies.
This "serious comedy" is a joy to behold, not least because Spielberg
does not have to turn in an edit, based on the demands of his
producers. If he had, The Terminal would have been half an hour shorter
and much less involving.
It is a character piece, taking us through the little problems, such as
finding a meal that doesn’t consist of crackers, that occur within a much
bigger one (war?) and the things we choose to cling to in order to make
life bearable. Viktor’s patience is admirable and shines out in a terminal,
filled with fast food outlets and people rushing through their lives.
The film stops you in your tracks and tells you to wait, and, for once,
the wait is thoroughly enjoyable.