Storm Of The Century

A meticulously-directed film with lavish special effects.

October, 1991. Gloucester, Massachussets. Sea-lover and skipper of the Andrea Gail Bill Tyne (played by George Clooney), is under pressure from his hard-nosed boss and boat-owner Bob, to do what he is employed to - catch fish.

Determined to silence Bob and driven by the need to prove himself, Tyne gets together his motley crew comprising Bugsy (played by John Hawkes), Sully (played by William Fichtner), Murph (played by John C. Reilly), Bobby (played by Mark Wahlberg) and Alfred Pierre (played by Allen Payne) and sets off past Sable Islands and the Grand Banks to reach the Flemish Cap - an area of the sea rich in swordfish.

But a couple of storms are brewing. Hurricane Grace has gathered speed off the North Atlantic coast and is on a collision course with another storm. The meeting of the two weather monsters is likely to create "a disaster of epic proportions", according to weatherman Todd Gross.

Having got their kill, the crew of the Andrea Gail decides to head back, through the storm, despite the radio warnings of concerned friend and competitor Linda Greenlaw (played by Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), captain of the Hannah Boden, and inspite of a failed engine.

Based on a real-life incident, this movie makes us experience the force and brutality of the storm through computer generated special effects. Lots of strong winds, cracks of lightning, rumbles of thunder, shouting and tossing later, the story reaches a conclusion.

The build-up of the movie is slow. The personal lives of the crew are developed in some detail, especially the relationship between Christina Cotter (Diana Lane) and Bobby Shatford - the young, amorous couple who feel intensely about each other.

The emotions in the movie seem petty and affected, lacking their genuineness perhaps because all the characters adhere to the stereotypes generally seen in disaster flicks - the loving mother, the anxious girlfriend, the profit-mongering boss, the ex-wife and child and so on. Performances by Wahlberg and Clooney keep the movie afloat.

The director, Wolfgang Peterson, (of "Twister" and "Volcano" fame) hasn't spent lavishly on sets, since he is depicting middle and lower-middle class American fisherman and their families, but the filming of the storm itself has been spared no detail.

The picturisation brings reality as it was in 1991 for the crew of the Andrea Gail and its kin to the viewer's doorstep through the all-seeing eye of a meticulous director.

This article was first published on06 Nov 2000.