VOD film review: All Is Lost
Ivan Radford | On 28, Apr 2014
Director: J.C. Chandor
Cast: Robert Redford
Watch All Is Lost online in the UK: TalkTalk TV Store / iTunes / Amazon Instant Video / Google Play
Someone should tell Robert Redford that he’s too old for this. All Is Lost is story of a man fighting to stay alive at sea – and Redford throws himself into it like a masochistic pensioner. The result is a brutal 90 minute display of resilience that amazes as much as it hurts.
Things go wrong almost immediately. Redford’s sailor wakes up to discover his hull has been punctured by a wayward shipping container. He sets about repairing it, only for a storm to come. He buttons down the hatches, but the boat tips over. It tips over again. He fixes the radio – then another storm comes. He hits his head.
The bad luck keeps going; with no obvious signs of CGI and a handheld camera chronicling the pain up close, J.C. Chandor directs with a ruthless matter-of-fact realism. It’s like watching your granddad getting beaten up for 90 minutes. You feel every blow.
For anyone to survive such an onslaught is impressive. For an old man to hang in for so long, it’s nothing short of inspiring. Battered and bruised, he communicates everything we need to know through his heavily-lined face, while Alexander Ebert’s gently moving score conveys the rest. In fact, throughtout the film (not counting an opening, written voiceover), Redford says no more than six words, three of them being “help me” and “fuck”.
With no dialogue, our skipper is never named; the actor could easily be playing himself on screen. Unfolding in near silence, this screen icon’s sheer determination – even as logic departs the script and he starts making silly decisions – is powerful to witness. All Is Lost could have starred anyone, but it wouldn’t have anywhere near the same impact. At 70 odd years of age, Robert Redford is too old for this – but he’s not about to give in any time soon.