Digital Spy

Search Digital Spy
0

Movies Review

All Is Lost review: Robert Redford adrift at sea with JC Chandor

By
Director: JC Chandor; Screenwriter: JC Chandor; Starring: Robert Redford; Running time: 106 mins; Certificate: 12A


There are few things more cinematic than Mother Nature wreaking havoc, but it's the human element that makes an indelible impression in this survival story. That has much to do with Robert Redford as the ill-fated sailor who holds the screen, single-handedly, from start to finish - and without any showboating.

He's known only as 'Our Man', entirely unencumbered with an identity or a back-story before we find him adrift in the Indian Ocean. Writer/director JC Chandor (Margin Call) makes the bold decision not to reveal what else - other than his own life - is at stake. We're merely given a hint of a family life back home when, at the start, he recites a letter that begins, 'I'm sorry, I tried...'

His boat does have a name. The Virginia Jean springs a leak after an overnight collision with a fallen shipping container packed with trainers - and the cargo bobs around uselessly on the water, offering a pointed reminder of the things we prize in society that mean nothing when nobody is around to take notice.

Robert Redford in 'All Is Lost'

Consequently, the electrics are frazzled and that means no navigation system. Our Man keeps a cool head under pressure, though, quickly patching the hole and sitting down to a book on celestial navigation. He does manage to calculate his position but a broken sail leaves him at the mercy of the currents.

Of course, we know - as Our Man knows - that he's in a vulnerable place. He's being carried into a shipping lane, but the seas are rough and that patching won't hold. He busies himself with mundane tasks, cooking and cleaning and kicking back with a shot of whisky, but he eats like he's swallowing pills, the mopping is endless and that one shot of whisky leads to another. There's an inescapable feeling that he's living on borrowed time.

The fact that Redford is in his mid-70s provides another undercurrent. He looks capable, but at the same time, the worry is written all over his face in intimate close-ups. His craggy skin is visibly burned by the saltwater. His tiredness becomes more evident and with many near misses (and near rescues), his will to live weakens.

It is a restrained performance and all the more riveting for it. There are times that Our Man could jump around and curse God, when instead, he puts his mind to something practical. Much of the tension comes from waiting to see what it'll take before he finally snaps. And eventually he does, but even then he struggles to get his voice out. It's one of the most devastating moments in a simple tale that sweeps you away.


You May Like

Comments

Loading...