All Is Lost

All Is Lost
Directed by JC Chandor
Starring Robert Redford

by Joanna Orland

Life of Pi without Richard Parker, Cast Away without Wilson, 127 Hours without chopping an arm off.  A sound designer’s dream, a yachtsman’s nightmare.  That pretty much sums up All Is Lost, a claustrophobic ambient thriller set on a sinking yacht, using negligable dialogue to build the tension and show the struggle of Robert Redford’s nameless character.

This film is a great showcase for the silent acting skills of Robert Redford along with the power of sound design.  Sadly the premise becomes more and more unbelievable as Redford’s “our man” character struggles to survive in spite of all odds being against him.  The first problem is that we don’t even know this character’s name, and we never learn it.  How can we fully empathize with a character we know nothing about.  We know he’s got at least one person in his life that he cares about due to the opening voiceover of his letter, but who this person is and what relationship they have, who knows.  What is he even fighting for?

In spite of some absurdities and lack of character development, All Is Lost is a gripping watch.  It is so tense throughout that I was a nervous wreck watching it.  It is so immersive in its visuals and sound that I honestly felt sea sick during the first fifteen minutes.  If this film doesn’t put you off sailing, I don’t know what will.

This is not a must see, but it is an enjoyable yet tense watch.  The ending disappoints for various reasons, but even so, what’s wrong with watching Robert Redford and only Robert Redford on screen for nearly two hours?

All Is Lost is screening tonight at the BFI London Film Festival.

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