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.
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.
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: