Movie review: Drift along with Redford in “All Is Lost”

By
From the October 31, 2013 edition

Writer-director J.C. Chandor made a strong Hollywood debut with “Margin Call,” a star-filled and fast-talking drama about the financial collapse that evoked “Glengarry Glen Ross.” “All Is Lost,” conversely, contains almost no dialogue.

The head-spinning combination already makes Chandor an intriguing director, not content to repeat the same tricks, even if I prefer the debut to the follow-up.

An unnamed sailor (Robert Redford) is alone on his yacht in the Indian Ocean when a bump from a drifting cargo container breaches the hull of his ship.

As the ship slowly takes on water, the sailor methodically works to stave off impending doom.

Watching Robert Redford furrow his brow for 90 minutes may not sound like engaging cinema, but “All Is Lost” is an engaging exploration of mortality. We are, after all, all adrift alone and on our way to death, right?

Redford’s weathered good looks — and inexplicably still red hair — somehow evoke the right mix of a man facing down death and one who has the means for his own yacht. It’s a one-man show, so an actor of this caliber is the only way this film could work.

It is almost certainly unfair to “All Is Lost” that I screened the lost-at-sea drama the same day as the superlative lost-in-space drama “Gravity.” It’s not a fair comparison, but space wins. “Lost” is still a fascinating experiment, and I’m looking forward to what’s next from Chandor.

Photo courtesy of Roadside Pictures