Wednesday, August 18, 2021

All Is Lost: A Review



This is part of the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon. Today's star is Robert Redford.

It's Man versus Nature in All is Lost, an almost silent film that puts one man against the great sea itself. With a strong performance from Robert Redford, All is Lost may try some viewers patience.

Our Man (Redford) in voiceover expresses regret for what he has failed to do, and then we go back eight days prior to where he's awakened when his sailboat collides with a shipping container. The gash leaves the ship, the Virginia Jean, damaged, including the radio equipment.

Making impromptu repairs, Our Man sails on, unwittingly into a storm that nearly kills him. Even after surviving despite being knocked out, he's forced to abandon the Virginia Jean and into a raft. There is hope in that he's near commercial shipping lanes, but will he be able to attract any passing ship and survive, or will the ocean claim another lost soul?

Writer/director J.C. Chandor does an admirable job in keeping things flowing (no pun intended). There's very little dialogue and only one cast member (Redford), so All is Lost has to rely on how the story moves and how the actor is. Fortunately, both are quite strong.

As Redford has no one to act with and/or little to say, he is forced to act with his face and body. All is Lost is a showcase for his skills in this autumnal role. Our Man reacts to the growing danger, the agony and fear mixed with anger and at times resignation. His worn, weather-beaten face expresses so much of his suffering and will to survive. Redford brings not so much a gravitas but a realism to Our Man, who takes all things as they come and works with what he has.

I would say though that perhaps becomes he has no one to work with or external/internal dialogues to speak, audiences may not find much interest in Our Man's journey. All is Lost does have something of a remoteness, a distance because we know nothing about him. We don't know his name, we don't know his past or his journey physical or metaphysical, so whether Our Man lives or dies may not interest some viewers. As he's a stranger to us, his ultimate fate is not something that some kill care about.

Add to that the length of All is Lost. At about an hour and forty-five minutes one thinks that perhaps this scenario could be shortened (perhaps having only one commercial ship pass by). Despite the simple plot All is Lost feels padded out somewhat.

All is Lost, however, has other positives, in particular Alex Ebert's score. Sparing but elegant, the music is a vital part of the film's overall success.

All is Lost will try some viewers, wondering when it will all end. However, with a strong performance from Robert Redford and a scenario that mostly works, it should engage others. 

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