All Is Lost

October 28, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Posted in 2013 | Leave a comment
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When does a great actor bow out of films?  What does he want his last film to be?  Some, like Raul Julia (whose last film was “Street Fighter”), don’t get a choice.  After a stunning career, spanning over a half century, Robert Redford could do worse than to have this be his swan song.  At 76 years old, Redford is nothing short of remarkable in this physically demanding role as a man stranded alone in the Indian Ocean on a damaged sailboat.  He’s forced to scurry, jump, swim and battle elements that looked exhausting for a man half his age.  With scarcely a word said throughout the film, we watch Redford’s unnamed protagonist try desperately to save his boat and then his life and his situation gets more and more dire over the course of 8 days adrift.  Without needing to fallback on the sort of fantastical elements that propelled “Life of Pi,” writer and director JC Chandor is able to create a story that remains both completely believable and absolutely gripping for its entire 106 minutes.  Without a word said and without another person on screen, some scenes managed to be breathtakingly tense.  Redford carries every scene with tense resolve, anxiety, resignation and frustration playing out in his face.  With the exception of one dreadful moment involving a choral crescendo that sounded like an angelic visitation, the musical score was generally understated.  The scenes of the ocean were beautiful and incredibly real looking; in fact, I have no idea how they shot some of those scenes without being out on the open water.  In many ways, this film felt like the grown-ups version of “Life of Pi.”  Not to say that I didn’t love that film (which largely existed in the world of allegory), just that this one was much more understated and real and, therefore, more powerful.  This was a great example of sparse, taut, minimalist film making.  Here’s a vague spoiler, so go no further if you don’t want to read it: I would have much preferred it if the film had ended thirty seconds earlier and would have given it a half lozenge more.  That quibble aside, I strongly recommend “All Is Lost.”


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