Film Review: All Is Lost

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J.C. Chandor successfully avoids the sophomore slump with All Is Lost, a mostly stellar effort with a great turn by, leading man, Robert Redford.

Chronicling the plight and peril of one man (Our Man, according to the script) played by Robert Redford, the film has only a few lines of dialogue but is about as compelling as a film can be. After a chance encounter with a stray shipping container, Our Man’s boat is damaged in what will be the first in a series of trials for survival that the Indian Ocean will throw at him. That’s about all of the plot I am willing to give you, but for those being scared off by the lack of dialogue, characters or plot shouldn’t worry as the film is incredibly compelling.

Chandor’s script and Redford’s performance keep you engrossed from the opening frames, and while I wish the film might have been a few minutes shorter and without one unnecessary music cue, it’s hard to level any complaints against it. Chandor is directing a completely different animal here after his Wall Street thriller, Margin Call, and he steps up right to the challenge. The script keeps things moving right along until there is nowhere left to go and while I get Chandor wants us to feel like Our Man, I feel like the third act could have been a bit slimmer. The final moment feels a bit over dramatic as well, but I can’t imagine myself in Our Man’s shoes so who knows what I would do at that point. Enough complaining, the picture is engaging at every turn, is often gorgeous and has a few really incredible set pieces. My jaw was dropped on more than one occasion and the serene beauty Chandor captures makes you want to go out and sail the open seas.

Robert Redford lets you see into Our Man’s soul and he hasn’t been this compelling in some time. The physicality he puts into the film is felt through the screen, but his ability to wordlessly let you into his brain and emotions is what really stands out. Watching Redford try to figure things out will bring you to the edge of your seat and you can’t help but root for him as he left entirely to his own devices. It is easy to feel empathetic towards Redford, but he perfectly captures the rugged man’s man of yesteryear, and few other actors could pull off that delicate balance. His performance is worth the price of admission alone, and it better be because he is all alone in the film.

All Is Lost is one of the years best and its few minor issues are easily looked past. The film is a fantastic follow up from his debut for the director Chandor and Redford’s later career will be defined by this role. Not to be missed, All Is Lost is unlike most any experience you can have in a theater.

All is Lost is an A-

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