30 December 2013

Short review: All Is Lost

(Dir: J.C. Chandor, 2013)

In the last twelve months there have been three films focusing on a single character stranded away from humanity. All Is Lost happens to be the best. Life of Pi bored with it's prolonged boy vs tiger nothingness and oppressive piety. Gravity managed to impart the sense of true isolation but in a scenario forever alien to anyone watching. Both relied on stunning visuals to tell and carry the story. All Is Lost feels rooted in a reality a long way from the fantastical and that makes it a more powerful watch. The man in this situation is more logical in his approach, maybe because he's better equipped, but he rarely shows fear or frustration and is able to improvise accordingly. This feels like a lesson in what you should do if ever lost out at sea.

Of course the real anchor is Robert Redford. He carries the film superbly in a near wordless role, dealing with the hand he's been dealt and coping as best he can. He's eminently watchable and helps ensure the film never drags or feels stretched out. The way it's shot enhances the feeling that this could happen to anybody and the storm scenes are gripping, edge of your seat stuff, whilst the loneliness and foolhardiness of heading out into the ocean alone ripples throughout, along with a sense of futility. The narrative never veers off course or gives cause to extrapolate on the man beyond what survival necessitates, meaning All Is Lost never loses itself or feels like it's overdoing things. This is a superbly crafted film that's a great watch from start to finish.

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