Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

December 26, 2013

Movie Review: All is Lost

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — This is the first movie I can remember that literally has a cast of a single person. Fortunately for this film, that single person is the legendary Robert Redford, and, as my college film professor once told me, “The camera loves Redford.” It still does, even at the actor's advanced age. 

Redford's unidentified character (He doesn't have to be, he's Redford.) is sailing in the Indian Ocean when, unexpectedly, a large container left floating in the water strikes his yacht. Severe damage is done to Redford's vessel and equipment. He is forced to rely on his knowledge of the sea, his wits and what he has been able to salvage to stay alive. 

As with any movie with no dialogue, and only a few words spoken by a single character, the film can drag and be boring at points. Nevertheless, the beauty, viciousness and loneliness of the ocean is always on display. The entire film is a reminder of the fact that no matter how dominant man is on Earth, what we can build, what we can achieve, there is still much of the world we will never be able to control. When we're in that element, we're at its mercy. Only wisdom and preparedness can get us through. 

The film is directed by J.C. Chandor. The cinematography, coupled with Redford's uncanny ability to tell a story with subtle facial expressions, really make this an interesting film, overall. 

I'd recommend this as a rental. As good as I think this film is from an artistic standpoint, I don't think I could sit through its 106-minute running time in a darkened theater and stay awake. I had to take breaks. Nevertheless, it's worth watching for Redford's performance, the film's beauty and its ability to draw you in as the man's challenges and situation become more dire.