Watching "All is Lost"
Published on December 4, 2013 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Robert Redford vehicle/survival tale "All is Lost."

Here's an excerpt:

"2013 has been a big year for experiential cinema. 'Gravity' gives viewers the experience of being lost in space. 'Captain Phillips' allows them to see, hear and feel what it’s like to be taken hostage by Somali pirates. '12 Years a Slave' immerses them in the life of a slave. This week I saw 'All is Lost,' a tense and visceral depiction of survival at sea. We learn little about this man — not even his name. (In the credits, he’s listed as Our Man.) But we understand what he’s feeling, hearing and seeing at any given moment.

'All is Lost' is the second film from J.C. Chandor, who made his debut with 2011’s 'Margin Call,' a gripping look at the financial collapse. 'All is Lost' is also pretty gripping, but in a completely different way. 'Margin Call' was a talky movie that featured a dynamite ensemble cast, while 'All is Lost' is a nearly wordless showcase for a screen legend: the 77-year-old Robert Redford. No other actors appear in the film, and although we do see the occasional fish, this isn’t 'Life of Pi.' There are no imaginary tigers or fantastical islands to liven things up. What we get instead is nature, and the elements: the open water, a raging storm, the glare of the sun.

'All is Lost' opens with Redford writing a letter of apology, placing it in a bottle and dropping it into the sea. The film then jumps eight days back in time, to the moment when Redford’s yacht crashes into a shipping container, tearing a hole in the side. The rest of the movie is a meticulous and painstaking account of the steps Redford takes to survive. We see him studying a book on celestial navigation, making an attempt to patch his boat and learning to operate a sextant. But the setbacks are numerous. Eventually his yacht sinks, forcing him to relocate to an inflatable raft with a small supply of rations and equipment."

Click here to read the whole thing.

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