Movie Review – All is Lost (2013)

Director: J. C. Chandor

Stars: Robert Redford

All is Lost is a minimalistic film that concentrates on one survivor who is lost at sea. He struggles to survive as the elements threaten his patched-up boat, and comes to the realisation that he may, in fact, die.

This is an interesting film, and it’s one that is going to be incredibly divisive. I described it as minimalistic and that’s true to an extent, as there are perhaps ten lines of dialogue and it is literally a one-man show. However, the cinematography is good and breaks away from being tethered to the ship to provide some gorgeous underwater shots that show the beauty of nature, contrasting with how dangerous it can be as well. We don’t get any information about this man, no name, no idea of his background or whether he has any family. All we know is that he’s a sailor. This is an interesting concept as it suggests that it could be anyone, and we can project ourselves onto him.

I don’t usually like films like this. It started off slowly and I was afraid that it was going to drag and feel like an eternity. Therefore, I was surprised when it flowed along at a steady pace. I feel the idea would be more suited to a novel as you could get into the character’s head so you could connect with him more. As it is I don’t feel much for the man, although Redford brought a lot to the table.

I wouldn’t say it’s a captivating film but it was interesting. I felt that music could have been used more to give the audience something to work with. It came into the film and gave a greater sense of atmosphere towards the end. I have to admit that I did feel the character’s frustration towards the end, but I was hoping for more of a resolution. I wanted to see something that gave an indication of the outside world. Sometimes these isolationist stories can work, but I feel they’re better when we get to see the protagonist’s isolation contrasted with how they fit into the ‘normal’ world. I just don’t feel like All is Lost amounts to much. I think it could have been more brutal in showing the harshness of survival, like him having to deal with the reality of bowel movements or having to eat raw fish. As presented, it never escaped the trappings of being a film to be brutally honest about what people have to do in these situations.

Apparently it received a 9-minute standing ovation when it was filmed during the Cannes film festival. I don’t think it deserves that. I think it only really holds interest for people who like searching out different types of films, for entertainment All is Lost doesn’t really work. It’s an interesting concept and I liked it better than I thought I would when it started but it doesn’t offer that much other than its minimalism.


2 thoughts on “Movie Review – All is Lost (2013)

  1. I agree with you. I am not sure how I felt about this film. I knew it was well-acted. I knew I thought it was a good movie when it was over. I knew it was well made. However, I also know I will never watch it again.

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