For Reel

All Is Lost (2013)
January 16, 2014, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: J.C. Chandor
4 Stars
All Is LostRobert Redford stars in this nearly-silent, uncommonly minimalist action picture in which the plot is no more complicated than a man and his sinking ship. As a performer, Redford naturally possesses a highly-masculine, authoritative presence, and director J.C. Chandor capitalizes on the believability of his crafty wherewithal to make the most out of the few moments where his determination seems to reach its breaking point. Redford goes about each task (especially in the first half of the picture) with a look of only mild worry or near-indifference. After a grim opening sequence sets the entirety of the film in flashback, however, the audience is bound to treat every situation as more severe than the methodical Redford. He doesn’t respond to danger in the way that an average civilian might (consider Sandra Bullock’s neurotic performance in the other major survival film of the year: Gravity), and his knowledge of seafaring makes it so that an audience with no sailing background sometimes needs to do some speculative work to figure out exactly what he is doing from scene-to-scene. This initial technique of emotionally distancing the audience makes the stakes all the higher once Redford’s confidence begins to slip–to again compare the film to Gravity, where this film bests that one is in its sense of escalation, the dread that each new obstacle is inherently worse than the last.