In the past 12 months there has been a spate of sea-faring movies, starting with Life of Pi, through A Hijacking and Captain Phillips, and now we have what is perhaps the most remarkable of them all, All Is Lost.
Robert Redford players “The Sailor”, a man in a yacht in the middle of a deserted ocean. We join him when he wakes to find water pouring into his sleeping quarters and all over his computer and radio equipment. Heading outside to investigate, he discovers a rogue shipping container floating in the middle of the ocean that his yacht has drifted into. Redford sets about fixing things but it’s downhill from there. The remarkable things about the film are that a) it is played out as a virtually silent movie (about two thirds of Redford’s lines are said in voiceover before the film gets under way) and b) that Redford is the only actor on screen.
The nature of the film provokes questions about Redford’s performance. How much of what he does is acting? It’s a physical feat, one all the more impressive given his age (77), but so much of what we think of as acting isn’t required in this film. There’s no interaction and little or no emotion, beyond some minor exasperation at the predicament he finds himself in. But it’s pretty incredible, none the less.
At the same time, the technical aspects of the film are just as impressive. The special effects in the storm sequences are pretty incredible when one considers the scale of the movie. We all too often take these things for granted, especially in the big budget blockbusters, but this isn’t one of those and yet it remains immaculate.
Ultimately, this is a special film. It grips you throughout despite breaking all the rules for what you expect from a film. There is no conflict, beyond man versus nature. There is no emotion to draw you in. But from beginning to end you can’t take your eyes off the screen.
Film length: 1 hour 46 minutes – Feels like: 1 hour 30 minutes