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All is Lost - Movie Review

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All is Lost - Movie Review

4 stars

Why do we try to live? What incredible force in the human spirit drives us to keep fighting when death’s rap is sounding our time to go?

Since the beginning of time, theologians and philosophers have been tackling these age-old questions which are at the heart of J.C. Chandor’s All is Lost. Though he never proposes an answer (the good ones never do), it’s the unique way the filmmaker asks the question that makes his film such a monumental achievement. His question comes in the form a film with just one actor and but a half dozen or so words of spoken dialogue. The single performer is legendary film icon Robert Redford who plays the nameless captain of a sailing yacht making its way through an eight month solo voyage across the Indian Ocean.

The film opens with a voiceover reading a note in a somewhat desperate voice that at the same time hints at somber relief as he apologizes, accepts responsibility for his plight, and assures us he fought hard and held on as long as he possibly could.

Flash to eight days earlier as Our Man is awakened by the grinding thud of an abandoned shipping container that has ripped a massive hole in the boat’s hull. With water filling the cabin, the man is forced to improvise with a number of makeshift repairs that eventually get the boat back in service. But he’s hardly underway again before he discovers that mariner’s intuition and a mental fortitude that belies his age are nothing to prepare him for the approaching tempest that proves too much for the wounded vessel. Left adrift in a rubber life raft with only a sextant, meager rations, and no radio, the ever-resourceful seaman is forced to rely on the ocean’s currents to carry him into a shipping lane where he hopes to signal a passing vessel.

Providing very little back-story or context typically spells doom for a character-driven tale. Especially one with only a single character. But Chandor – who writes and directs - pulls it off here, mainly due to the spectacular performance by Redford. We don’t know where the man is going, where he’s been, or if anyone cares about his well-being. We don’t even know his name, but we're entertained by the old salty dog as he glides effortlessly about his boat with the ease of a master seaman and the wiliness of the character in those prime-time Viagra commercials who always finds a way to get it done. We watch intently as Chandor's camera lingers with long pauses, oftentimes following Redford with extreme close-ups as we relish his quiet, simple movements and activities whether they be clambering up the ship's 65-foot mast, or simply opening a can of soup. We're fascinated.

With echoes of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea, All is Lost is fueled by the sheer simplicity and stark minimalism of its storytelling. Never boring, it is an existential action movie about a single man lost at sea summoning an internal battle to survive not only the numerous crippling obstacles thrown his way, but his own mental challenges as well. That Our Man chooses to never give up, despite the overwhelming onslaught of problems thrown his way, speaks to the strength and drive of human nature. And that it’s all made interesting to viewers is a testament to Chandor’s Filmmaking skills. His technical craftiness and remarkable sense of pacing make All is Lost a powerfully moving story and a worthy addition to the survival genre.

All is Lost - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language.
Runtime:
106 mins
Director
: J.C. Chandor
Writer
: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
Genre
: Drama
Tagline:
Never Give Up
Memorable Movie Quote:
Distributor:
Lionsgate
Official Site: allislostfilm.com
Release Date:
October 25, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available

Synopsis: 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.

No details available.

 

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