Title: “All Is Lost”
Director: J.C. Chandor
Writer: J.C. Chandor
Starring: Robert Redford
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Barebones and yet strangely compelling, “All Is Lost” stars Robert Redford and only Robert Redford as a man on a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean who wakes one morning to find that his boat has collided with a loose shipping container and is taking on water. While he manages to patch the boat, a series of disasters cause his situation to get worse and worse. What does a man alone do when all is lost? (See what I did there?)
J.C. Chandor clearly wanted to make a powerful film, and to do that he went for a minimalist film. His follow-up to “Margin Call,” this film shows that Chandor is a diverse director and is not afraid to try different things, even as risky as this movie arguably is.
The entire film is nothing but Redford playing an unnamed character as he tries to fix a series of problems as the situation gets completely out of hand. We are entirely dependent on Redford’s incredible skills as an actor to show us anything or give us feeling as Redford has almost no lines during the entire 106 minutes of this movie. We are told nothing about his background or why he out here sailing alone. All we know is that he’s here and he’s in trouble. So this film may not be for everyone.
However, if you can sit through that, you actually get a compelling story. While it seems that this movie has an overly long runtime, and it can feel like that, the runtime becomes a necessary component to make us identify with and care about this man. It’s a man alone with nothing but his wits against nature, even if it is a man-made object that starts the conflict. With no background provided, the audience needs the time within the movie to grow to like and root for this character. We don’t feel much in the beginning, but by the end, we find that we care what happens to this man. We admire him and his courage for sailing alone. And we hope he ultimately triumphs. We don’t want him to die. If this were a short film done in the same style, it wouldn’t work.
Like I said, this film can feel a bit long, so while the time is a necessary component, by the time it’s done, you’re ready for it to finish. Another problem is that we watch Redford go around the ship doing stuff. The problem here is that, if you don’t know anything about sailing, that’s all it looks like: Stuff. You don’t know half of what he’s doing and you don’t get any explanation for it. It can get frustrating.
Stark and minimalistic, this movie is still powerful and real, but it requires patience and the right mindset before seeing it.
“All Is Lost” earns 4 out of 5 stars.