Trailer: All is Lost
After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face.PT2M21S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-30yqj 620 349 January 17, 2014
ALL IS LOST
M, 106 minutes. Opens Thursday.
The sole character in All is Lost, a compelling tale of nautical and, ultimately, spiritual survival, is simply called ''our man''. An ageing sailor whose yacht is sinking in the Indian Ocean, he is played by Robert Redford, who has been our man in the movies - that is, the hero - for five decades now.
Redford has long played a vision of the iconic American male, whether charming as an outlaw in 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or resolutely upending a corrupt prison system in 1980's Brubaker, but in J. C. Chandor's first-rate film he is stripped of his comforts.
Battered by storms and challenged to prolong his life at every turn, the 77-year-old turns years of heroics into minutes of stoic, unadorned desperation. Our man's sense of well-being, not to mention his yacht's hull, is punctured by a loose cargo container, which crashes into his ship while he is asleep as a cruel reminder of the modern world.
With swift flooding, the damage is severe, and we learn about this nameless man by his actions, which are resourceful, and his emotions, which are subdued. Chandor's debut, 2011's Margin Call, was a lean financial thriller that worked on a vertical axis amid the ascending levels of a Wall Street tower, but All is Lost is dominated by the vast horizontal blue of the ocean, endless and empty.
In a film bereft of dialogue, bar an opening voiceover (a solemn goodbye letter), individual actions and their emotional weight are magnified. Harking back to Ernest Hemingway, this is a thriller composed not only of our man's jury-rigged repairs and his attempts to salvage usable items, but also in the way we judge his actions. A moment's respite, where he impassively regards himself in a tiny mirror as he shaves, is freighted with existential unease. Is he preparing for a fight or for the inevitable end?
As a romantic lead, there was always a distance between Redford and successive generations of leading ladies, but here alone that solitary quality is tragic and spellbinding. There is no easy rhyme to this ancient mariner. Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity used unfamiliar wonders to illustrate a story of survival, but All is Lost makes the familiar strikingly new.
The filmmaker and his star hold their nerve, refusing easy outs and making you look - and listen - carefully to a starkly pure piece of cinema. If this is a swansong for Robert Redford, it is a notable introduction for J. C. Chandor.