All Is Lost is a man-stranded-at-sea movie, starring Robert Redford, in a role that has almost no dialogue, as a fellow who wakes up in his small yacht, somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean, only to discover that a random floating shipping crate — who knows how it got there? — has gashed a hole in the boat’s hull. It’s like his own miniature iceberg scrape: All of a sudden, his boat could go down, and him with it. Most movies that strand a solitary figure at sea, like Life of Pi, or on a desert island, like Cast Away or the template of the whole genre, Robinson Crusoe, are lonely but upbeat tales of invention and survival. J.C. Chandor, the writer and director of All Is Lost, does a radical existential twist on those tales. The film opens with Redford in voiceover, reading a farewell note to his family (confessing his selfishness, he says “I’m sorry,” and explains that he has only half a day’s rations left, and that he’s resigned to his fate, and that “all is lost”). It’s quite a bummer of a beginning, and when the movie then flashes back eight days, we’re already primed to experience Redford’s journey not as a series of small, ingenious acts of self-salvation but as a gradual downward spiral, the story of a man getting sucked into the void. READ FULL STORY
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