Saturday, November 2, 2013


At the start of writer/director J.C. Chandor's "All Is Lost," the voice of Robert Redford is heard, composing a letter of farewell and apology, assuming to his family and loved ones. Aside from this moment, a distress call through a radio and one frustrated outburst, that's all we hear out of the actor for the film's 105-minute running time. We see a wedding ring on his finger but no photographs or memorabilia from a life back home. Labeling him "Our Man," it's purely man vs. nature in this allegorical tale that's pure Redford.

After his yacht crashes into an adrift cargo box, he is immediately responsive and resourceful to fix the damage even as water pours into the cabin. A lot of other bad things happen to him, all rendering Our Man alone on the open sea fending for himself. But he is a capable and intelligent man who perserveres against all odds, and the film is very detail-oriented in showing his survival. Redford takes a risk as does the film, keeping a 77-year-old actor, but no less a legendary one, on the screen, constantly and relentlessly. His performance is brave, full of nuance and physicality, as he acts through expression and action only, and the academy will certainly take note.

The point of J.C. Chandor's second film (after his debut "Margin Call," the chatty polar opposite) is to show a tale of survival stripped to its bare bones. It's a fascinating concept, keeping things completely figurative and full of gorgeously composed shots of the sea below, a school of fish and a swarm of sharks swirling intermittently. Or the dimming glow of a red flare landing in the water as a cargo ship, Our Man's hope for rescue, drifts away. The philosophical effort is there, but the impact is never quite achieved.

No comments:

Post a Comment