All Is Lost
dir-scr JC Chandor
prd Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, Justin Nappi, Teddy Schwarzman
with Robert Redford
release US 18.Oct.13, UK 27.Dec.13
13/US 1h46
All Is Lost
A storm is brewing: Redford

london film fest
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
All Is Lost Shot with an astounding attention to detail, this film puts us right in the middle of a life-or-death situation with its only character, a sailor whose boat founders in the middle of the Indian Ocean. But Chandor's remarkable skill as a director is slightly undone by a plot that piles on too many disasters.

Some 1,700 miles from the Sumatra Straits, a lone sailor (Redford) is woken up when his boat is damaged by a rogue shipping container. He repairs the hole and pump out the water but has lost all power, which leaves him without a radio or navigational equipment. Then as he tries to make his way to safety, he is hit by a vicious storm that leaves the Virginia Dean only barely afloat. And it's not over yet: after he makes the difficult decision to move to a lifeboat, his harrowing ordeal gets even more intense.

Viewers may find it impossible to believe that one man could be the victim of so many coincidental traumas. And with each successive event, we begin to feel like the filmmaker is piling the trials of Job onto this intrepid sailor's shoulders. Redford plays him as a dogged, clearheaded thinker who never panics, carefully making the most of any tool or material he has while cleverly solving a variety of seemingly insurmountable problems.

Chandor keeps the camera intimate, which puts us right into the situation with this unnamed sailor. We feel every challenge, both mental and physical, as well as the emotional strain of an increasingly hopeless situation. Some scenes take our breath away with bravura camera and stunt work, while other moments attack our spirit. And it's all shot tightly with Redford in the frame, only very rarely widening out to show the Life of Pi-style beauty of the teeming sea around him.

No, this isn't a movie about wonder or faith. It's about the perils of nature, which is depicted here as a dark predator that heartlessly consumes anything even remotely weak. As big fish quietly gulp the smaller ones, and as massive ships rumble past without noticing this small man's cries for help, we begin to understand that survival depends on our own ingenuity and tenacity. This isn't a very warming message, but it definitely gets under our skin. The question is whether you'll ever go near a sailboat again.

cert 12 themes, language, grisliness 3.Oct.13 lff

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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall