All Is Lost
“All Is Lost” is an ambitious piece of experimental filmmaking, but even uniqueness and a stunning performance from Robert Redford can’t save it from feeling repetitive and ultimately, boring.
This is a brave film. There’s practically no dialogue, the entire story is set at sea and Redford plays the only person ever seen on screen, a protagonist who isn’t given any kind of backstory, or even a name.
The film begins as Redford’s character wakes from a nap in his yacht to find water pouring into the boat. A stray metal container from a cargo ship has cut a jagged hole in his vessel. Cool and collected, he pumps the water from the boat and patches the hole.
But his luck keeps getting worse. A violent storm rips open the hole in the boat, and suddenly the character’s story is one of pure survival. He faces sharks, a lack of drinking water, multiple storms and almost any other problem that could possibly take place.
Redford’s presence on screen is the true gem in this film. Without speaking more than a few lines of dialogue, Redford conveys the man’s doubts, fears and strengths in a weathered and believable manner.
But despite Redford’s subtle expressions and his impressive physical presence, it’s tough to really care about this character. Ultimately, the level of investment will vary from among viewers.
Some may see the protagonist as an educated, wealthy man who sails for pleasure when he has free time. Others may see an everyday guy who’s estranged from his family and searching for fulfillment at sea.
Because there’s no backstory whatsoever, viewers must craft one for themselves, and how they view Redford’s character will make all the difference in the amount of emotional impact the final scenes carry.
Director J.C. Chandor tries something new with “All Is Lost.” Instead of relying on flashbacks, special effects or clever dialogue, he gives us one man, one boat, a crisis and the human will to survive.
Still, after a while it gets old. The struggles start to feel forced and there are a few too many quiet lulls to keep the story moving.
“All Is Lost” is interesting and gutsy, but ultimately, it’s much more fun to talk about than it is to actually watch.
— Schyler Martin
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