All Is Lost

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Viewers of a certain age may remember Robert Redford as one of the great handsome men of cinema. The sun-kissed skin, the wind-tousled hair, the little-boy smile that let you know he couldn’t lose. Like the title says, all is lost. Disaster rouses an solo yachtsman from comfortable sleep: a drifting shipping container has punched a hole in his boat. Skillful efforts at repair and recovery eventually give way to a grueling struggle to simply survive. The sun blisters, the wind ravages, the face twists and sags. The metaphor — we’re all on a journey, people — is kept mostly in the background, but the lack of dialogue and singular focus make it impossible to miss. (Just about the only time writer-director J.C. Chandor takes the camera off Redford is to give us gradually deepening shots from below the life raft: first minnows, then a school of fish, then predators, and finally, sharks.) (2013) — Matthew Lickona

Rated PG-13 | 1 hour, 40 minutes
View Trailer "Opening Shot: All Is Lost" Official Website

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If you enjoy cinema for metaphor or for furrowed brows, then see All Is Lost. If you go for dialogue or humor or a whopping good story, then sit this one out. Alert viewers will find themselves adrift in a sea of unanswered questions: Who is our protagonist, and why is he on this dangerous journey? Who is he scribbling to? Is it simply too uncinematic for him to wear a hat every time he's out in the sun, or for him to recycle his urine? Instead of a sextant, shouldn't a sailor in his mid-70s traveling solo own a waterproof rescue beacon? The absence of backstory means that our attention is on the here and now, but this one-dimensionality keeps the script from achieving much depth. Obscure spoiler alert: fans of the original Star Trek series might find similarity between the ending of this film and the ending of The Galileo Seven.

Nov. 12, 2013

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