Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: All Is Lost

Image courtesy of Lionsgate.
J.C. Chandor's "All Is Lost" is, perhaps, a movie that I admire more than I love, but admire it I do. The picture is a one-man show with Robert Redford at the helm or, arguably, a three-man show if you want to include the pretty incredible cinematography by Frank G. DeMarco and Peter Zuccarini.

All you need to know about the film is that it follows a nameless man (Redford) who is alone at sea on his boat and must deal with an increasingly dire situation after his ship is struck by a floating piece of freight, forcing him to first attempt to keep from sinking and, when that fails, try to survive on a life raft.

However, you'd be wrong to think that "All Is Lost" is another of those tales of survival that celebrate the triumph of human resilience. In fact, the picture shares more in common with Michael Haneke's recent "Amour," which also chronicled a person of a certain age's coming to face with their own mortality.

And Redford pretty much pulls it off, carrying the film with a mostly wordless performance, allowing his emotions and sense of, at first, dread - and then - acceptance of his situation play out on his face.

The film also looks pretty terrific and there are more than a few scenes that I wondered how the filmmakers pulled off, including one in which Redford's boat flips upside down in the water and another involving a rather lengthy storm.

All this being said, I think Chandor's film is a good - but, perhaps, not great - one. I prefer his debut, the critically acclaimed and Oscar nominated financial crisis drama "Margin Call." But I was pretty awed by Redford's performance here, which is one of his best in some time, and the camera work involved. And I like that the filmmakers took a scenario that has been a little played out - the survival against the odds tale - and made it into something you might not expect.

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