90%Overall Score
Reader Rating: (5 Votes)
89%

There are few films not just in this day and age, but the entire history of cinema that can achieve the incredible feat that “All Is Lost” goes above and beyond with. The film is written and directed by J.C. Chandor, who takes viewers back to an age where films didn’t rely on heavy dialogue or CGI to progress a story, but instead were able to keep viewers engaged by all the other intangibles necessary to make a work of art. The brilliance comes from Chandor’s script, which consisted of only 32 nearly dialogue-free pages and a single cast member that bring this 106-minute survival epic to life. The most crucial decision in this film had to be casting the main (and only) character, which proves to be one of the strongest aspects of the film.

With its single cast member, “All Is Lost” hits a homerun casting the legendary Robert Redford in the role of Our Man. The fact that there is little dialogue makes Redford’s portrayal of this intelligent character even more impressive. He is posed with the tough task of making the audience care and root for a character that does not express his feelings through his vocal cords, but rather through physical actions. Which in relation to film, the famous saying, “actions speak louder than words” is rarely the case, but in “All Is Lost”, Redford’s actions speak volumes.  Few actors can truly carry a film, but Redford dominates in this extremely demanding tour de force of a one-man show.

The film begins with a shot of the vast Indian Ocean, and the only time we hear the voice of Our Man. His morose and apologetic tone in this monologue express what seems to be a mix of regret and disappointment. The film then goes back to eight days earlier where Our Man awakens amidst the beginning of his misfortune. He comes to find that his beautiful Cal 39 yacht has collided with a shipping container, ripping a large hole in the hull of his vessel. It is this event that really puts wind into the sails of this film.

Our Man gets right to work after his misfortune, first dislodging his boat from the shipping vessel and begins patching the large hole after tilting his boat enough to stop taking on water. It’s obvious that Redford’s character is an extremely intelligent, resourceful individual with extensive maritime experience. You can’t help but notice how unique this film is from other survival genre films. Many survival films rely on the audience and protagonist simultaneously wondering and figuring out what to do next in order to survive. They also rely on the audience sharing similar emotions to the main character such as frustration and hope. “All Is Lost” takes a different approach than most survival films. Our Man always seems to be a couple steps ahead of the audience, and it takes some time to figure out exactly what he is up to before it is as obvious to us as it is to him. This approach is quite brilliant due to the fact that most audience members are not maritime experts, and if most of us were on a boat with a large hole that was taking on large amounts of water, its safe to assume we would be freaking out.

 

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The character progression of Our Man is well written and Redford is truly flawless in his portrayal. Our Man begins as a calm, cool, collected maritime expert who understands his situation while trying to gain control. We get to see his demeanor change throughout the film as his situation goes from bad to worse, and suddenly his resourcefulness and intelligence seem like not enough. From bad fortune to bad weather, Our Man is pushed to the limit and tested in a way that he has never been tested before.

“All Is Lost” is a truly exceptional and unique experience that will stimulate film-viewing senses and emotions you didn’t even know existed. Robert Redford’s portrayal of our silent hero is dazzling; in a very challenging role that few actors would be able to pull off. In some minds, the fact that there is almost no dialogue may be seen as something that takes away from the film. They couldn’t be more wrong, in fact it adds a certain depth to this movie and makes it unique in that aspect. “All Is Lost” is an extremely special film that cannot be missed, and the one man show that is Robert Redford goes to show that the guy has still got it.

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