All Is Lost (2013) Directed by J.C. Chandor. With Robert Redford.
Battered. That’s how you’ll feel after watching J.C. Chandor’s second directorial offering, All Is Lost. 2011’s Margin Call, a captivating, smart story about the banking crisis of 2009, demonstrated what an exciting talent Chandor is. With this, essentially a man-versus-nature survival film starring Robert Redford and the Indian Ocean, he couldn’t have swerved further off course. What doesn’t sway off course, however, is this young director’s massive talent.
After the chat-happy script that was Margin Call, Chandor strips everything back to visual basics with an almost dialogue-free screenplay that relies on an increasingly craggy faced Robert Redford to silently deliver the drama…and boy, does he deliver. For a man approaching his 80th year, this a very physically and emotionally demanding role. When he’s not clambering around the bowels of his flooded boat, or struggling to stand in the face of the torrential rain and strong winds of the high seas, he’s using all of his resourcefulness to beat back mother nature to simply survive.
It’s an unrelenting experience that projects a desperate sense of exhaustion, but at the same time, has you rooting for the character to persevere, despite all the of obstacles that are put in his way. It’s also a solid reminder of the raw beauty and power of cinema, in its most basic form. If you see this film alone, its lack of dialogue might have you uttering the odd word, on behalf of Redford. Sometimes those words are out of hope, sometimes they are out of amazement, but mostly they’ll be out of frustration.
Much like Alfonso Cuaron’s celebrated space disaster, Gravity, this is a suspenseful parable about mankind’s determination survive in the harshest, most remote of circumstances. Amid fighting back the hopelessness, J.C. Chandor and Redford convey much beauty and poignancy, presenting a film that is impossible to forget. 5/5