All Is LostReviewed By Peter Sobczynski
Posted 10/24/13 18:03:37
(Worth A Look)
Robert Redford is, of course, one of the most undeniably charismatic movie stars of our time but that has sometimes proven to be a double-edged sword with him. When he is acting opposite someone just as charismatic as him--someone like Paul Newman or Jane Fonda--everything is fine but when up against a lesser light in terms of screen magnetism, he has a tendency to overwhelm the proceedings by his mere presence and throw everything out of whack. In his latest film, "All Is Lost," he finds himself up against no less of a player than Mother Nature herself and proves to be more than up to the challenge by offering up one of the very best performances of his entire careerIn the film, he plays an unnamed man (he is listed in the credits as "Our Sailor") who is sailing across the Indian Ocean all by himself on a small yacht. Although perhaps not an expert, he is still good enough of a sailor so that when he wakes up one morning to discover that his boat has collided with an adrift shipping container and is taking on water from a gash in the hull, he is able to stay calm, pump out the water and patch up the hole. For a little while, it appears that he will be able to hold out long enough to get to safety but then he stumbles into a massive storm from which both he and his ship barely survive. WIth his ship slowly falling apart, his resources dwindling and his attempts at contacting the outside world falling on deaf ears, he struggles to persevere but after a few days, he finds himself being forced to confront the notion that his efforts at survival, no matter how valiant, will most likely prove to be in vain.
"All is Lost" was written and directed by J.C. Chandor, who won an Oscar nomination a couple of years ago for "Margin Call," his fascinating take on the beginning of the 2008 financial meltdown. That film, you will recall, was a very talky affair--albeit in a good way--but for his follow-up effort, he has gone in an entirely different direction. Other than an opening voice-over of the sailor as he writes a letter to his children that they may never see and a couple of asides, this film is almost entirely free of dialogue. This is a risky move for a film to take and it pays off beautifully because by stripping all talk away (which would have been highly unnecessary in this case) it serves as an effective parallel to how our hero is slowly having everything that he has come to rely on taken away from him until he is forced to confront his surroundings on an almost primal level. Along the same lines, Redford has finally managed to strip away his star veneer and appears to us as an ordinary 77-year-old man (though one that will probably look far better than you or I at that age) caught in the grips of an extraordinary situation that he is pretty much helpless in the face of despite his presumed advantages.I am not quite as over the moon with "All is Lost" as some of my fellow critics have proven to be. Part of this is due in part to my own personal prejudice against movies featuring characters who struggle mightily to extricate themselves from deadly situations that they have put themselves in (such as practically any movie ever made involving mountain climbing) and part of this is because the final scenes go for a more metaphorical feel that doesn't jibe well with the more straightforward storytelling on display the rest of the time. I also suspect that some audiences who have already seen the superficially similar "Gravity" may come away from it wondering what all the fuss is about. However, there is no denying the power of Redford's performance throughout and despite the title of the film, not everything is lost--a powerful actor and his commitment to his craft have at long last been found and the movie world is better for it.
|© Copyright HBS Entertainment, Inc.|