Sunday, October 27, 2013

All Is Lost

All is Lost is a bold and brave film which dares to be different; featuring a cast of one, the brilliant Robert Redford, with no use of flashbacks and barely any dialogue, it is an intense and moving tale of survival. At the movie’s onset, an unnamed man (Redford) is sailing alone in the Indian Ocean and wakes up at the feel and sound of impact only to see water gushing through a hole created in the hull of his yacht; the damage caused by a collision with a shipping container floating haphazardly in the middle of the ocean. Upon disengaging from the container, he goes down below to find waist high water, floating seat cushions, and the fact that his navigation equipment and more importantly his radio, his sole source of communication with the outside world, damaged and unusable. Working slowly and methodically, our man (name later given in credits), addresses each issue with the apparent confidence and ease of someone who’s been sailing a lifetime; until mother nature throws a curve ball of her own in the form of a violent storm which he had sailed into unawares. Our man survives that battle, but as circumstances become grimmer by the moment, we question whether he’ll survive the war. Braving the elements, sharks, hunger and dehydration, he will need to rely on his sheer will and determination to live to come out victorious and survive.
“I’m sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn’t. All is lost here, except soul and body.”
Those few words comprise more than 90% of the dialogue in the entire movie and they come in the first couple of minutes of the film. Uttered in Redford’s voice, the words resonate with weariness and resignation and set the tone for what becomes two-hours of profound, gripping drama which leaves you drained and energized at the same time.

This is a truly glorious film and movie experience that does for the sea what Gravity did for space; which is to leave you in awe, in awe of both its beauty and brutality; and to serve as the vehicle for what has got to be the best performance of Robert Redford’s career. With silent stoicism, he lets viewers practically see his wheels turning, as our man faces each crisis with calm ingenuity. Without giving voice to an inner dialogue to share his thoughts and actions; without a supporting cast to rely on, unless you want to credit the sea as the second character in the film; without eloquent monologues or flowery lines to express his hope or lack thereof; Redford conveys with his mere furrowed brow, gritted jaw, and expressive eyes every feeling and thought and completely ensnares us in his struggle, so his fight for survival becomes our own, as we will him to keep on fighting, to not give up.

The cinematography is beyond words, as each shot could be a picture postcard capturing the breathtaking wonder that is the sea; capturing the sea’s beauty – calm, blue, serene in the bright sun of a cloudless day or shimmering and sparkling like diamonds in the splendor of a setting sun; and the sea’s ferocity – roiling, violent and roaring louder than a freight train during a storm. It is no exaggeration that the sea in truth is the movie's second character. Our man's nemesis and companion.

All is Lost was beyond intense, a roller coaster ride of emotions, and Redford’s silence only served to ratchet up the anxiety, so when our man finally lets lose with a good ol’ four-letter expletive yelled at the skies, we feel our own sense of relief. In addition to being touching, thrilling and poignant, as well as telling a compelling story, the movie's glowing achievement has to be the fact that it reintroduces the public (or in many cases introduces for the first time) to a great talent, reminding many why they fell in love with him in the first place; because before he was Robert Redford the director, or Robert Redford the founder of the Sundance Institute and Film Festival, he was Robert Redford the actor, and believe me in this film, he shows how truly great he is.

All is Lost takes viewers on a voyage of self-discovery for our man is every man and at the movie's end we are left to ponder, how far would you go, how long would you fight, in a seemingly losing battle? In closing, All is Lost is a must see. Here's hoping the little golden guy goes home with the Sundance Kid on Oscar night.