ALL IS LOST
Following his impressive Margin Call feature film debut, writer/director JC Chandor has delivered a film that can very much sit alongside 127 Hours and Cast Away in its solitude, but not its intensity or technical creativity. All is Lost is a film without any dialogue as we watch an old man battle the elements of the sea as he finds himself stranded. Redford has never won an Oscar for acting despite his five decades of acting. There is lots of Oscar talk for Redford’s silent yet intense performance here; however, from what I have already seen and the promise of what’s later in the year, I think this will suffer from a lack of interest due to its decisiveness.
1700 Nautical Miles from Sumatra Straits, we see an elderly man on a yacht who has just discovered a hole and is taking on water from a collision with a shipping container. The radio is ruined but our man (Redford) isn’t without skills and he patches the hole and heads away from his floating red container towards a vast nothingness. His problems, storms and lack of food and water, become a burden he cannot escape. He is alone but never shows his fear because there is no one to see it or care. He never tells us why he is here or why he chose to be alone, but survival seems to be something he is willing to strive for until all is lost.
It takes someone very talented to keep an audience's attention for an hour and 45 minutes where there is no dialogue. Redford, with his physical performance and the elements crashing in on him, do hold our attention, but barely. All is Lost is a beautiful film for what it is; the camera work and cinematography are so crisp, clear and extremely well lit. However, what this really boils down to is a film like Amour where we watch someone wasting away, every day closer to death than the last. Redford exudes the type of quality that gives us hope that there may be a way out just beyond the next wave or desolate sunset, but we fear from his opening voice over that the title is literal.
My biggest issue with All is Lost is my lack of emotional connectivity with the film and Redford’s character. In last year's Life of Pi we at least had an emotional connection with the main character, whether you liked the film or not. Same with 127 Hours and Cast Away; we embraced those people in their hopeless situations. I never felt that for Redford the blow by blow here is well captured but in the end it feels more like a misconducted survival instruction video. “All is lost… soul and body is all that’s left,” the voice over begins, and it takes our imagination with Redford’s singularity, to work our way through this story.
Final Thought – Leaves much to be desired.
Grade B- By: Dustin Chase