All is Lost – Robert Redford is great at sea



All is Lost
Before The Door Pictures, Washington Square Films, US
107 Min
Release UK: 26th December 2013

DIR J.C. Chandor
EXEC Robert Ogden Barnum, Joshua Blum, Howard Cohen, Eric d’Arbeloff, Cassian Elwes, Corey Moosa, Zachary Quinto, Laura Rister, Kevin Turen
PROD Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, Justin Nappi, Teddy Schwarzman
SCR J.C. Chandor
DP Frank G. DeMarco
CAST Robert Redford

What is interesting about this film is its ability to connect with an audience for over ninety minutes. During this time not a single cohesive line of dialogue is uttered or any human relationship measured, other than the relationship with one’s self. . Robert Redford is a sailor lost at sea; he is battling with nature and we are reminded of the vastness and sheer force of nature; Gravity exposed space like never before, and All is Lost does the same for the ocean.

Redford does a fantastic job at playing an isolated man who is touching old age. Throughout the course of the film he loses 25 pounds and his skin begins to look like it’s been through a paper shredder. Chandor directs his solo protagonist (referred to as OUR MAN in the screenplay) with precision and great attention to detail. One-minute he is carefully constructing a water filtration system and the next he is being ferociously tossed upside down and into the Indian Ocean. All the while, we are right there with him, feeling and anticipating his every move. The camera work is fluid and establishes a strong connection with the beautiful yet haunting setting.

Robert Redford in All Is Lost

However, there are holes in this script; how intriguing can a script about one man stuck at sea really be? (Not to mention it only stands at 35 pages long). He does this, then he does that, and then this happens, so he does that etc. It’s not as dull as that sounds. Full of stage direction and description, the screenplay by J.C. Chandor was actually a very interesting read. Every notion and description was transferred to the screen with immaculate precision, a very impressive ordeal for an action driven script. Everything that happens to Redford on his journey speaks truth to the evil spirit of the sea. Storms with 50 foot waves do appear, 30 foot yachts do upright themselves, sea harnesses do save lives and sea anchors do work. Yet, you don’t need to be an expert to understand these things, as Chandor makes every little detail about the excursion clear in Redford’s cautious actions. In fact, this film is a rather dynamic insight into the workings of a yacht at sea and all the potential issues that sailors have to confront themselves with.

My big itch with this film however, is the precarious ending and the defiling beginning. The film opens with black and Redford tells us of his demise rather poetically. We then cut back to eight days previous where it all began. It’s a bit of a giveaway, but it also ties in with a message that Redford writes in a bottle later on. The message in a bottle is a sentimental touch, but perhaps it would have been more mysterious and stimulating if we never found out what he wrote? (Though it’s obvious enough anyway). If I remember rightly, the audience chortled at the end of this film and some people even burst into laughter. Why? You’ll have to find out for yourselves. All I can say is to be open-minded.

It’s interesting, it’s innovative, and it’s a man lost at sea.

3.5/5 stars

Watch the trailer below:


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