Benjamin Kuwas

Review: All Is Lost – Redford's Awash With Brilliance In A Film That's Lost At Sea

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All Is Lost

All Is Lost manages to captivate the audience with its strong themes of survival and human strength, and combines an engaging performance from Oscar winning acting legend Robert Redford. Redford plays a nameless character who has to fight for his survival after his boat is destroyed by a strayed shipping container. Will he overcome such obstacles before all is lost?

During the course of the film we see Redford rise up to the challenge and fight back against the rages of the temperamental ocean, yet for some reason, this is a film which never really seems to rise up to the challenge of being an utterly compelling survival film, where the audience would be engrossed with Redford’s character enough to care for his fate. The reason being that we hardly know anything about the character that Redford portrays.

All we know is that he must be an experienced sailor. He doesn’t have a name, we don’t get to know about his background or who he is as a character, so this makes is difficult for the  audience to completely connect with him. However, we are not completely heartless, and despite the lack of character exposition you do find yourself hoping that he doesn’t give up hope and that he keeps fighting for his life.

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Redford manages to draw you in somehow, even when he is literally just sitting down eating his dinner. The interesting thing about his performance is that he doesn’t instantly go into a state of panic or despair, instead he tries to keep a calm and collected manner and focuses on finding ways to survive instead of giving into fear and losing all hope. Yet as anybody would in his situation, he lets the audience in and expresses his frustration at his current ordeal, before he again gets into survival mode.

The thing that is truly lost in this film is the dialogue – only a voice-over and a couple of words can be heard throughout the film. Allowing silence to become a character of its own may put many people off, but it surprisingly didn’t matter too much because the performance that Redford gives is as if he is acting out an internal monologue with his expressions.

But on the other hand at times you did feel isolated as an audience member because you weren’t allowed to fully understand the character or what he was truly feeling. That is where the film could have become something greater, because the film is basically us watching Redford think to himself instead of opening up and interacting with the audience.

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All Is Lost isn’t just watching Redford think to himself, but it features some incredible film making and great storm sequences. This is where the film has its urges of excitement and tension, for we see Redford surviving through some harsh attacks from the ocean and what’s impressive is how his character manages to overcome such obstacles.

These are the moments where you can engage with the character, because you keep putting yourself in that position and trying to imagine how you would deal with such a dangerous situation. That’s a credit to Redford’s performance, of how he can draw you in and allow you to try and imagine what his character had to endure.

All Is Lost is a good film, but there’s something frustrating in the way it never really goes beyond that. All the ingredients are there for it to explode into something great, but with so much anticipation it ends up being quote underwhelming. That being said, Redford does give a good performance and it’s worth the watch for that alone, so I can safely say that All Is Lost will feature heavily during the awards season.

All Is Lost is on general release across the North East.

[usr 5]