All is Lost (2013)

<strong class="MovieTitle">All is Lost</strong> (2013)

(On Cable TV, July 2014) Some movies demand admiration simply by sheer audacity, and All is Lost‘s ultra-minimalism in portraying a single man stranded on a damaged boat in the middle of the ocean is the kind of stunt filmmaking that makes for an intriguing departure from the usual movies. There is only one cast-member: Robert Redford, supporting an entire film on his shoulders while having fewer than a dozen spoken lines. Much of the film is spent seeing him react to the collision between his boat and an errant shipping container: as his situation gets worse (powerful storms don’t help when the boat is leaking), All is Lost becomes a pure survival thriller about a man losing everything and yet never giving up. Writer/director J.C. Chandor delivers a superb cinematographic exercise, considerably improving upon the directing in his debut Margin Call. There’s a refreshing lack of dramatic intensity at play: Redford underplays everything as would befit a man focusing on survival, while the score and cinematography also try to restrain themselves. But while the film is easy to admire, it’s not quite as easy to love: it’s a bit longer than it should have been, and the ambiguous ending will either work or not. Still, much of All is Lost‘s power comes from its self-assured portrayal of survival at sea under desperate circumstances. It would work as a good double-feature for either Life of Pi or Gravity.

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