ALL IS LOST (2013)

all is lost1 Greetings again from the darkness. In Cast Away, Tom Hanks makes friends with a volleyball. In The Old Man and the Sea, Spencer Tracy talks to the whale. In Harvey,  James Stewart chats it up with a tall imaginary rabbit! It takes the great Robert Redford to show us how to face isolation with silent dignity (save one well-deserved F-word).

Writer/director J.C. Chandor brought us the very good Margin Call (2011), which was filled with many characters and mounds of dialogue. Here, he reverses field with a single character and no real dialogue – only the opening log entry and a couple of SOS calls into a short-circuited radio. This is one man’s struggle for survival. It’s that man vs nature. It’s our man facing mortality and isolation.

all is lost2 So you are probably wondering how this can hold your attention for two hours. The real answer is Robert Redford. At age 77, his screen presence is remarkable. Having never been a “showy” actor, his performance and this movie depend on facial expressions, his body language, and mostly his ability to connect with an audience immediately. In 1972, Redford was Jeremiah Johnson, another man of few words who fought nature (and native Americans in that one), but this one is more immediate with its pending doom.  Technically, All is Lost is exceptional, especially in sound design and in creating a terrifying and believable situation. But it’s Mr. Redford that causes us to feel thirsty with him, and to hold our breath as a storm shoves him underwater.

all is lost3 Alex Ebert’s music is subtle and effective, but let’s get real … Mr. Redford and his mop of red hair are the reason to see this movie. There is almost no back story on this character, other than what we infer from his opening log entry. We know his “I’m sorry” has many meanings to his family, but we soon realize his will to live probably comes from an internal drive connected to his apology. It’s nice to see a role for an older actor that doesn’t included stupid humor designed to make kids laugh. Not much humor in this one, and there is no need to be sorry.

**NOTE: Robert Redford’s acting career spans more than 50 years and 6 decades. Many think of a sexy Robert Redford in one of his numerous roles, but this is the first to pair him with a sextant!

SEE THIS MOVIE: for the extraordinary performance of Hollywood legend Robert Redford OR if you are tired of the incessant cute-talk featured in most movies and shows these days (this one gives your ears a break, though your other senses work overtime)

SKIP THIS MOVIE IF: you are seeking guffaws or playful banter (it’s only filled with an excess of undrinkable water)

watch the trailer:


3 Responses to ALL IS LOST (2013)

  1. John Raymond (Ray) Peterson says:

    First I would say that Margin Call is perhaps a notch better than very good; I felt compelled to mention it.
    I’m a fan of Redford, even his directed only movies are on my to see list; for instance ‘The Conspirator’ was terrific. He can pick ‘em like few can, ‘The Company You Keep’ and ‘Lions for Lambs’ to name a few recent ones.
    Your stellar review of ‘All is Lost’ will, once again, make this movie a must see for me. To pull off the kind of performance you describe requires not just experience, but talent. I think of Daniel Day-Lewis, Clint Eastwood, Tom Hardy and Giovanni Ribisi to name a few who don’t need too much dialogue to convey a character’s feelings. So I will not miss it.

    • Ray, in no way did I mean to diminish Margin Call. I found it extremely well done. It’s intersting that you mention Giovanni Ribisi. Having always found him to be an intriguing actor, I was quite disappointed to watch a few minutes of his new TV sitcom. Rather than spend any more time on that, I choose to remember some of his fine movie roles … and hope there are more to come.

      • John Raymond (Ray) Peterson says:

        There’s nothing wrong with Margin Call being rated very good; I’m just a little more exuberant about it,is all.
        You are absolutely right about Ribisi’s TV sitcom; I’d sooner forget that altogether; it tarnishes the rest of his big screen work. Let’s hope it doesn’t change his future cinematic performances.

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