All is Lost


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All is Lost

Directed by: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
There is no doubt that the expression “the sea is a cruel Mistress” is one of life’s truisms. It is a harsh environment devoid of most everything man needs to survive, most importantly fresh water, one of life’s biggest ironies.

When one undertakes a journey of any distance on the open sea, he or she must carry everything needed to survive for long periods should the very worst occur. And when the environment strikes at you with all the force and misfortune it can muster, you must be smart enough, trained enough, and clever enough to outwit it and survive. I know, it’s happened to me, and I’m still here to write about it. Lucky, to be here to write about it actually.

That is the premise of Robert Redford’s latest entry into his film legacy, and performance-wise one of his best. So intense and visceral is his performance that virtually no dialogue is spoken, and yet Redford manages to make us understand him and keep our eyes glued to his every move, every gesture, and every expression. He is a work of acting art, to be studied and admired. He’s almost sure to be nominated for an Oscar.

“All is Lost” is an open-water thriller about one man’s battle for survival against the elements after his sailboat is crippled and then destroyed at sea. Unlike other similar films, like “Life Of Pi” or “The Reef”, this is a much more rich, solitary experience, a tribute to one man’s ingenuity and resilience delivered on film with astonishing depth and high quality.

Here’s the story-line:

Deep into a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, 1700 miles of the coast of Sumatra and outside normal shipping lanes, 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 power, 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.

In his life raft, using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him onward in hopes of hailing a passing vessel until he faces every sailor’s nightmare, staring his own mortality in the face.

The cinematography is up close and personal, with some great scene choices made by director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), who despite trying to keep the film moving along at a interesting pace, ultimately creates a film that at 107 minutes is too long by the end. Knock off about 15 minutes and it would have been pure cinematic gold.

My take, if you’re into sailing or boating, if you like Robert Redford at his best, or if you’d just like to see an adventure film on the high seas, this is the one for you. If not, be sure to catch the Blu-ray when it hits the shelves.

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