Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language
Now playing at CineArts Santana Row in San Jose, California:
Sharing similarities to Alfonso Cuaron’s “Gravity”, just with an aggressively more realistic overall plot, writer/director J.C. Chandor (the talent behind 2011’s “Margin Call”, a film that I wasn’t wild about) brings forth his second ambitious feature “All Is Lost”; which just so happens to be a nearly silent film (all things considered) that is more compelling than most “talkies”.
OK, so the idea of watching Robert Redford alone at sea for 106 minutes, no matter how much of a cinephile you may be, may not make you want to drop everything and rush out to buy a ticket. But trust me, once this film gets going, “All Is Lost” becomes something so suspenseful, touching and all in all emotionally draining, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the screen.
With a premise which feels like a short story, “All Is Lost” tells the tale of an elderly sailor who wakes up in the middle of the Indian Ocean and must face his own mortality when he discovers that his small yacht is sinking. The peril of this man’s situation coupled with the hopelessness of watching the world unload on one Robert Redford feels unbearably relentless. But like I said, I couldn’t turn away. And this brings me to an interesting point: The talk going into this was that Redford’s performance (being that he is the only character in this film) would be the best part of this movie. But the real star here is Chandor’s direction. On a technical level alone, “All Is Lost” is a marvel to behold. I am not for one moment saying that Redford doesn’t give a good performance, because with this film he has now forced his way into the Best Actor discussion, but I was completely blown away by the direction. Even during the sequences which portray the most chaos and destruction, there are shots which are irrefutably gorgeous. And furthermore, Chandor’s vision is not one dimensional, as his visuals are ripe with beautifully constructed symbolism and philosophical substance.
Side Note: There are those who will find fault with the ending, but the director made a choice and the fact is, it does work exceptionally well for this particular story. Plus, with a movie like this, with all that the main character goes through, it is hard to have an ending that will satisfy both the average movie-goer and the critics who thirst for logical realism.
Final Thought: This is an instance of successful storytelling in its most stripped down form; put the protagonist up a tree (or in an ocean) and throw things at him. And the fact that Chandor strips away every unnecessary detail about this man (we don’t even get his name) “All Is Lost” becomes a story about pure survival for survivals sake. And isn’t that the ultimate form of raising the stakes? In non-film school terms that means, go see this movie!
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