All is Lost (2013)
Cast includes: Robert Redford (All the President’s Men)
Writer/Director: J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Genre: Adventure | Drama (106 minutes)
1,700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straights… we hear water gently lapping on the side of something red… something strangely out of place. “13 July, 4:50 PM. I’m sorry. I tried to be… true… strong… kind… but I wasn’t. All is lost, except for soul and body… and half-a-day’s rations. I fought to the end. I know that. I will miss you… I’m sorry.” The story starts unceremoniously 8 days earlier. The Robert Redford character is simply identified as “Our Man” in the credits. Our Man is awakened from a nap by a crashing sound and water pouring in. On deck, he sees a large red shipping container has collided, corner-first, into his fiberglass hull… leaving a large hole just above the waterline… depending on the boat’s list. Our Man isn’t alarmed… he’s pragmatic… he lowers the mainsail and then works to dislodge the container. It obviously fell off one of those large freighters and has been floating in the Indian Ocean until it collided with the Virginia Jean. As the container is finally dislodged and drifts away, Our Man watches sneakers… hundreds of cheap sneakers… floating out of a hole in the side. Hard to believe all this could have been caused by a container of sneakers.
Everything below is under water. The electronics are soaked… no lights, no bilge, no radio. Our Man assesses the situation. He’s an experienced sailor and he knows that 4 feet of water down below isn’t enough to sink her, but he doesn’t have much time to figure out what to do. The first priority is to do some repairs and pump water out by hand. And for a while, it seems as if Our Man is making headway. He actually feels good enough to shave. But everyday there are new existential challenges. Despite all his efforts, survival is a long shot.
Anyone who’s ever sailed is familiar with those plastic ziplock bags labeled “survival equipment.” Even though Our Man is experienced, he’s never paid much attention to the contents of the survival equipment bag. Now, it’s desperately important that he make the most of every scrap of anything… anything at all… that might prove useful. Even though Our Man is not a talker, his emotional struggle plays out in his face and in his body language. Survival at sea is exhausting, and while he’s methodical and inventive, everyday more is lost. All is Lost is a beautifully made movie that really does hold our interest. Robert Redford is outstanding, and the cinematography is stunning. It’s amazing how many little details one can focus on when we don’t have the distractions of cell phones, text and other technology. Take for example the sounds… there are a lot of them… water, wind, scraping…. The score is also fascinating… at times, we’re not sure whether it’s music or natural sounds because it blends seamlessly. This is the second high-profile survival film in recent months. If you’re wondering how it compares to Gravity… All is Lost is very realistic… Gravity is mostly special effects with little based in realism. Both films do an excellent job of taking us on an emotional journey. In 2011, director C.J. Chandor gave us Margin Call, one of the smartest and most compelling films about a financial disaster. Two years later, he’s done the same thing in a totally different realm. All may be lost, but Our Man squeezes the potential out of every scrap.
4 popped kernels
One man in a damaged sailboat in the middle of the Indian Ocean fights for survival
Distribution: Mainstream limited release
Tempo: Cruises comfortably
Visual Style: Animated/computer Computer effects High-end production Nicely varnished realism Unvarnished realism Amateur video
Nutshell: Survival at sea
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Thought provoking