In a little over two years, young Hollywood “it” actress, Abigail Breslin has become one of the industry’s most bankable young actresses. In her latest film, “Nim’s Island,” she accepts the torch from a successful child actress of an earlier generation – Jodie Foster.
Breslin’s charm and likability serve her well as a young girl living on a faraway exotic island with her scientist father Jack Rusoe (“300’s” Gerard Butler). Losing her mother at a very young age, Nim (Breslin) spends most of her time with “friends,” a walrus, seagull and a lizard. In addition, she also love to read about the adventures of her favorite hero, the Indiana Jones-like, Alex Rover.
Unknown to young Nim is that Rover really exists, but instead of being a crafty explorer, she is a reclusive author aptly named Alexandra Rover (Foster). On voluntary house arrest, Rover lives in San Francisco and NEVER ventures outside her home. For this “explorer,” a simple spider sends her running for cover. But while researching her latest adventure, Rover connects with her favorite reader, Nim who seeks her help thinking that she is contacting the great Alex Rover (Butler).
While going on a routine expedition, Rusoe’s ship is destroyed by a storm. With his communication gone and a damaged ship, he is stuck in the middle of nowhere cut off from his home and his daughter Nim. With her father lost at sea and their secluded island suddenly being used to host a group of cruise passagers, Nim reaches out to Rover to help her save the island. Unable to leave her home to get the mail, can she summon enough courage to help young Nim?
Playing dual roles Rusoe and Alex Rover, Butler continues to build on his earlier work perfectly complimenting his young co-star and the reclusive author. Former child actress extraordinaire, Foster comes full circle as the now adult star cast along an actress that steals scenes much in the same manner as she once did in earlier films such as “Taxi Driver.” Breslin would do well to study Foster’s blueprint, which allowed her to develop into a Hollywood heavyweight boasting two Best Actress Academy Awards.
As the film’s star and with the majority of the screen time, Breslin acquits herself well in the title role. Much like Tom Hanks in “Castaway,” the bulk of the film rests in her giving an authentic, yet winning performance. Screenwriters Jennifer Flackett, Mark Levin, Joseph Kwong and Paula Mazur do a masterful job adapting Wendy Orr’s book to the big screen with the help of Breslin.
The idea of an author sharing a dual alter-ego isn’t new, but the device is used quite effectively in this Island version of a real “Home Alone.” How can you be mad at a story that features flying lizards, an intuitively helpful seagull and a young courageous heroine protecting her island?
Breslin brings plenty of “Sunshine,” to this enjoyable island adventure proving that her early work was not a fluke.