All Is Lost (2013)

All Is Lost (2013)
  • Time: 106 min
  • Genre: Action | Adventure | Drama
  • Director: J.C. Chandor
  • Cast: Robert Redford


Deep into a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, an unnamed man (Redford) wakes to find his 39-foot yacht taking on water after a collision with a shipping container left floating on the high seas. With his navigation equipment and radio disabled, the man sails unknowingly into the path of a violent storm. Despite his success in patching the breached hull, his mariner’s intuition and a strength that belies his age, the man barely survives the tempest. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face.


  • Normally I start a review with a quote from the film in question. That’s a bit difficult in this case since “All is lost” lacks any conversation. The only thing that would qualify is a frustrated cry of the famous F-word. For the rest it is just sloshing water, creaking wood, noise of hitting ropes and lots of rain and falling water, you hear throughout the film. I can understand his frustration, because how the hell is it possible to have a collision between your pleasure boat and a container on that immeasurable ocean while doing an afternoon nap ?
    It’s difficult to call this movie unnerving exciting. I dare to say that it was dead boring after a certain time. The only decision I took after watching this film is that I’ll never set foot on such a boat and float around on the ocean with nothing but water around you as far as you can look. And in the worst case, not only around you, but also down at you.

    Robert Redford, the icon of the white screen, had to carry the complete movie. He was, after all, the only living figure in this wet movie. Besides an unidentified hand at the last moment. No idea what RR ‘s name was. Besides, there is a total lack of background information about his character. Except that we know where exactly he is sailing. I can’t complain about his acting performance because this was sometimes astounding. The only thing that really amazed me was how stoically calm he was the whole time. A damn container makes a leak, no electricity or radio, a storm that shows up, the whole boat turns upside down, he hits his head against an iron pole, the boat is sinking, the lifeboat ends up in a storm, also turns upside down and then it catches fire … but does he keep a straight face ? Yes sir ! He’s a paragon of utmost restraint. I found this a bit exaggerated because I certainly would need a spare box of diapers in those circumstances !

    The explanation might be that he’s an experienced sailor. Yet this experienced sailor had to read a handbook on how to determine his position using the stars. And apparently he never used a sextant before. There were times when it was so predictable. I said at one time it wouldn’t surprise me if “Jaws” would suddenly show up. Afterwards they wandered around his dinghy. And that his boat could sink at any moment, could not stop him to crawl aboard a second time. And off course the second time it went down.

    The movie itself wasn’t that bad, but it wasn’t very entertaining either. And sailing seems to be a dull affair after all. The end was cheesy and followed the well known Hollywood guidelines. For me, the end would have gained enormously in strength, if at that ultimate moment RR wants to grasp the saving hand, he’d be dragged down by a great white shark. But that is too exaggerated and would be enormously ironic.

  • Robert Redford has always been Hollywood’s golden boy. His career has spanned over five decades. He has played everyone from a relenting columnist in All The President’s Men to a aging baseball god in The Natural, to a wild, wild west outlaw in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. In his latest film entitled All Is Lost, Bob along with the intrically detailed J.C. Chandor, form a terrific mesh of actor and filmmaker. “Lost”, with its earthy direction and subtle, held back performance by Redford, placed me tightly in its grip. It’s a flick about one man’s conflict finding himself in the middle of the ocean (with a sinking ship). Ignored at Oscar time, this thing is a triumph and it’s the kind of film Gravity wish it could have been (except for the box office receipts of course). Basically, it’s like Gravity on water but with a higher level of fear and discontent. And also for the record, I was even reminded a little of the Tom Hanks helmed Cast Away (despite the fact that said film took place on land, there was still the whole solitude/alienation thing that came into play). In a way, All Is Lost feels like an indie version of those two vehicles just mentioned. And even though it was shot in a studio, scenes of deadly storms and ravaged destruction project to be shockingly real (nothing seemed to come off as CGI enhanced, that’s for sure).

    Beginning with a sort of confusing narration by its star (Redford, the only cast member) and hightailing right into the harrowing events without any character build up, “Lost” tells a simple story with the most intricate, detailing aspects possible. Robert Redford, playing the nameless character “Our Man”, is somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean (I was trying to figure out why he was so content with being in such a remote area. What the heck was he doing out there?). His boat, named the Virginia Jean, has just crashed into a random shipping container and this creates a hole where water starts to gush in. After “Our Man” plugs up the hole and continues to sail onward, a storm hits, his ship sinks, and he’s forced to wane about in a lifeboat raft (with a little tent thingy, how neat). With his food supply nearly gone and almost no water (he can’t drink salt water, that’s for sure), Redford’s character desperately tries to flag down other larger freighters while somehow thinking that he might drift back to civilization (he breaks out a map and uses a navigation device to figure out where he’s located). That in a nutshell, is the gist of what’s going on. The ending, which I can’t reveal, can be interpreted in a couple of different ways. What you see as the audience member, will be left to your own imagination. Also, as All Is Lost starts to find its conclusion, the narration from the opening minutes becomes more clear and to a degree, more concise (you’ll see).

    Now to a large extent, I thoroughly enjoyed “Lost”. Its greatness lies in its simple story told with fascinating intricacies by its director, and a classically underplayed performance by Robert Redford. Any other actor might scream in pain, cuss, cry, or throw fits in the situation presented. Bob, who’s kinda known for underplaying roles anyway, goes for the calm under pressure, quiet persona. He has maybe 2-3 lines of dialogue. But he does more acting with his eyes, his body, and his outright soul. He looks weathered, feels weathered (he’s 77 years old and one tough son of a gun), but nails the part. Ultimately, he lets his head movements, his facial tics, and his creaky body flexes do the talking. As for Chandor, he directs “Lost” getting every little detail of survival as accurate as possible. I mean everything from repairing a hole in the hull, to fixing radio equipment, to using a sea anchor, to operating a sextant. Yeah everyone has been talking about Redford’s minutes on screen, but you gotta hand it to Chandor for his ability to build tension block by block not to mention shooting “Lost” with a confidence and to an extent, a vast amount of believability.

    To put everything into perspective, All Is Lost is a thriller, a heartache, and a solemn tale all rolled up into one. Despite the fact there is only one cast member and almost no dialogue, craftsmanship and coiled up suspense still abound. Truthfully, I would rank this exercise as one of 2013’s ten best. If you haven’t taken in a viewing, it’s time to put it on your must see list. There’s no doubt you’d be “lost” without it.

    Rating: 3.5 out of 4 stars

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