Lowdown: Alone on a damaged boat in the middle of the ocean, a man fights for survival.
In these days when films are designed by the bean counters, it can be quite hard to find a movie having a go at making an artistic statement that still gets the full deal of A list stars and production values. All Is Lost is such a case, a case of a film that feels as if it belongs in the seventies yet is very much up to date.
It must have been a tough shoot. I recall learning through the Making Of on James Cameron’s The Abyss just how hard filming on/under water can be. Perhaps to compensate for the production costs, the cast of All Is Lost is limited to one actor (Robert Redford) and one hand. Joyful cynicism aside, my point is that this one is an artistic statement that is full of the symbolic.
We join a lone Redford abroad a yacht in the middle of the ocean as that yacht is hit - and damaged - by a stray shipping container. This starts a struggle that last till the end of the movie, where a cool, calculated, well organised, and very resourceful Redford struggles – all on his own – to keep on floating in a world that sends man made shipping containers and naturally occurring storms down his way. But yeah, the title of the movie says it all: eventually, all is lost.
Obviously, given the nature of the affair – a single actor filling up an entire movie with hardly a spoken word – All Is Lost is unique. The messages it is trying to convey range from the dead obvious to those requiring deep thought, but clearly we have ourselves some statements on the themes of man vs. nature and/or technology vs. nature. It can also be argued the entire affair is an analogy to the struggle of life: from the second it starts it knows it is doomed, yet it struggles to the best of its abilities to survive for as long as it can. Until, that is, All Is Lost.
Clearly, Redford and director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) deserve their accolades for this one. It may not be the most exciting movie ever, but it sure is a statement. And a good one at that.
Overall: If cinema interests you as a form of art, as opposed to just entertainment, dare not miss All Is Lost. I will be generous and claim it is well worth 4 out of 5 thoughtful crabs.
Closing note: Between Redford's escapades here and Tom Hanks’ in Cast Away, I think we should make it mandatory for freight ships to put someone on constant watch for drifting Hollywood stars seeking refuge.