FILM REVIEW: All is Lost

All is Lost (J. C. Chandor, 2013)
robert-redford-all-is-lostAll is Lost follows ‘Our Man’ (Robert Redford) as he tries to survive while lost at sea. We do not know his name, we do not know why he was in the middle of the ocean on his lonesome in the first place. We are given no backstory whatsoever. But it works. I am surprised that someone out sailing by themselves would go below deck and have a nap – does that really happen? It seems somewhat foolish. Though I have heard that actual sailors were somewhat disappointed in Our Man’s lack of nautical knowledge as portrayed in the film. But if he had been an expert, it would have been a much less interesting film. I didn’t think he did a bad job, especially given that he’s a 77 year old! But then, HE’S ROBERT FRIGGIN’ REDFORD so he is somewhat superhuman. Redford more than holds his own in a film where he is indeed the only cast member. There is next to no dialogue in the film, which I thought could produce a snooze-fest, but Redford manages to convey the full gamut of emotions nevertheless.
All-Is-LostI did find it strange that he didn’t talk to himself. We follow him for eight days and in that time he only lets out a single F-bomb, which was around the three day mark. I would have been dropping them repetitively and from the word Go. I personally speak to myself all the time (does that make me weird?), especially when I am in a panic trying to figure out what I should do. I assume there are just some people who don’t do that, although I have found I am not the only person that found his silence odd. Without dialogue it did sometimes take a minute to figure out what he was doing. But that gave it some sort of suspense and also made me feel somewhat confident in my ability to survive when I was able to figure stuff out semi-quickly (“Oh he’s going to send off a flare! They produce light! So people can see! I could totally survive if I were him! I’m a genius!”) I would definitely die in these circumstances. Although I would never go out to sea by myself. But if I was on a boat with a bunch of people and they all died, I would definitely die soon after. Even if I went on (reality television show) Survivor I would probably die. So suffice to say I admired his perseverance and survival skills!
all_is_lostJ. C. Chandor who also directed and wrote Margin Call (2011), which on the flip side has smart dialogue aplenty, made some great directorial choices. He didn’t go for the obvious shocks, but rather kept it subtle, but not dull. There were a few great shots in particular. The sound editing/sound mixing (I’m still not 100% sure of the difference) was fantastic (and Oscar nominated in both categories) and I will certainly never complain about rain again… maybe. The storm scene was hella intense! Half way through it he decides to shave his face. Can’t say I got the point of that. I spent half of the film waiting for him to be attacked by sharks so I was in a constant state of fear despite there being few “AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!” moments. I will keep a lid on whether the sharks do indeed come. The ending was a great one though some might disagree – I will also say no more on that matter. See it for yourself and decide.

4 stars

4 thoughts on “FILM REVIEW: All is Lost”

  1. Enjoyed reading your review. Well, that’s why they make both chocolate and vanilla. We rated it one of the worst films we’ve ever seen, and by far Redford’s all-time low as either a director or an actor. The film wasn’t completely ruined till the very end, when trite religious symbolism pushed it over the edge. A few of our sailing friends had similar reviews, but on Amazon, it rates a 3 out of 5, with lots of folks giving it a 5… Chocolate and vanilla. Cheers.

    1. –Major spoilers below–

      Thanks for your comment, Barbara & Jack. I personally found the ending quite ambiguous (did he get rescued? Or did he drown and fantasise in those last moments that he was rescued?)- which annoyed me at the time, but ultimately I thought that was the best thing they could have done. If he had clearly been rescued it would have been cliched, but if he had clearly drowned that would have been mega depressing. I’m not religious and I usually roll my eyes at any religious symbolism, but I didn’t necessarily see it that way myself.

  2. Robert Redford’s considerable talents were, unfortunately, no match for a script which consists primarily of an endless stream of appalling errors indicating a stunning lack of incompetence on the part of Redford’s character. This man had absolutely NO business singlehanding a 39 foot boat on a small lake, let alone the Indian Ocean. Included in this incompetence are the director and any of his crew members who were responsible for researching proper sailing and survival techniques. Any sailor watching this film will undoubtedly spend most of his time cringing – I know I did.

    1. Thanks for your response, Rick. I know nothing about sailing myself but I’ve heard other sailors were disappointed. Considering that we don’t know his backstory though, we can’t know for sure that he was meant to be an experienced and knowledgeable sailor. Maybe he bought a boat as part of a mid-life/late-life crisis and wanted desperately to escape from his normal life, but did so somewhat unprepared. ??? Just a theory. I liked the ambiguity in this film. There were many things we didn’t know…

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