By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Robert Redford stars solo in a film about a yacht sailor lost in the vast Indian Ocean. Superb cinematography, precision editing, astounding visual effects, and an excellent, though nearly mute, performance by Redford are all reasons to see this often absorbing film. Now because of the lack of spoken words , no back story for the lone character and the painstakingly detail in which his ordeals and challenges are presented, All Is Lost can be a challenge, within itself, to watch.
The unnamed character portrayed by Redford awakes to find a huge leak in his yacht. Overnight, a collision with a shipping container breaches the hull, not only causing major damage to the boat, but also to his radio and navigation equipment. Things get worse as a major storm makes it almost impossible for him to survive and find his way home.
Writer/director J.C. Chandor and his incredible crew work wonders to make their film feel and appear as realistic as possible. With hardly any words to speak, Redford beautifully portrays not only the intelligence and strength of a man with the will and determination to survive, but also a man who could soon crumble under the weight of his challenges anytime. Redford obviously is a seasoned actor and hits all the right notes perfectly.
Chandor clearly wanted to keep his story simple, but I found some fault with this strategy in that I wanted some background information to have a more empathetic connection with his subject. In similar films like Cast Away, the audience is introduced to the character and his background before he has to go solo and carry the rest of the film. This gives the audience a definite reason to care for the character. There were many times in the movie, that I kept thinking to myself, “Who is this old man and why is out to sea all by himself?” The meticulous detail in which his dilemma and his various attempts to remedy the situations also make the movie drag on a bit.
Because these characteristics made the film more trying for me to sit through, I am reluctantly recommending to see this film as a matinee. For all its visual accomplishments, the movie looks astounding on the big screen, but it will probably look pretty impressive on a large HD TV as well. I give kudos to Chandor and crew for their admirable filmmaking and to Redford for delivering a superb performance, but I wanted more meat to the character’s story.