All is Lost

Posted: January 15, 2014 in Film
Tags: , , , , , , ,


Robert Redford on a boat shouldn’t be as enthralling as All is Lost manages to be for 100+ minutes.

All is Lost is the ideal illustration of limited storytelling that I hoped to see when I watched Gravity. For the entire duration of this film, you’re stuck on that boat with Robert Redford. There is no escape. And thankfully, the score doesn’t slap you in the face (unlike Gravity), which allows the audience to lose themselves in the events that unfold. Without any other characters to distract or detract from the focus of Redford’s character, you feel the undeniable loneliness and impending doom of being lost at sea.

While others may not buy immediately into the story, you’re given an ample opportunity to imagine yourself in this awful situation—facing the daunting task of navigating your way back into the world.

Without question, All is Lost is a straightforward drama that drowns the audience in its simplicity.

Throughout this movie, the audience never learns the name of Redford’s character. He simply remains the unnamed man. And it works although you know nothing about his life before this voyage. But you will walk away with a wealth of knowledge about the character of this unnamed man.

What and how he endures adversity teaches you a lot about being a man.

For the record, I would have been dead within the first 15 or so minutes.

The thought of giving up never comes across this man’s mind. Steely determination would be a wild understatement. Redford’s resourcefulness and persistent resolve keep him alive at sea (far longer than any normal human being) after he wakes from a nap—old men have to sleep, after all—to find his boat collided with an abandoned shipping container. I would have instantly shit myself if my boat was taking on water without any functioning communication equipment to signal for a rescue.

No land in sight would present an overwhelming sense of fear, which All is Lost certainly captures.


Despite patching the gaping hole in his boat and fixing his sail, Redford’s character finds no peace and quiet as he sails/drifts into violent weather that resembles a scene from The Perfect Storm. It’s clear that the world is unrelenting as the storm threatens to completely dismantle the remainder of the boat while Redford’s supplies continue to diminish. The old cliché of “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” is exemplified with the unnamed man’s struggle. Every day, people fight to survive and stay alive. All is Lost is an amazing depiction of this plight in what amounts to rather mundane conditions. Perhaps I enjoy the idea of this movie more than the actual film itself. It takes balls to make this type of simple, basic movie.

However, All is Lost is definitely not a flawless work. There are so many dull boring parts littered throughout, but the lulls necessarily build tension while enabling plenty of time to contemplate the proceedings. It would be interesting to see another actor take on the responsibility burdened by Robert Redford as the lead. A throwback to an older generation, Redford embodied and exuded so much character mostly through body language with only a few words uttered. I just wish I could unsee Robert Redford’s hands. His wrinkly, hairy old hands are disgusting and that revolting image will stick with me forever.


Hopefully, All is Lost will stick with you forever as well. This movie never reaches the same level of nature porn as Gravity, but the visuals of the Indian Ocean are still mesmerizing. Although All is Lost is an entirely different movie than Life of Pi, I feel like I would have enjoyed All is Lost even more if Life of Pi wasn’t already living up in my head. What I love most about All is Lost is the absence of backstory. If you have an imagination, you’ll envision your own scenario in which this unnamed man is on a solo voyage.

Is this man running away from something? Is he trying to find something? What is the source of his relentless pursuit of survival? Is life truly that precious? None of these questions have answers.

And that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, a movie only needs to make you think.

“13th of July, 4:50 pm. I’m sorry…I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried, I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn’t. And I know you knew this. In each of your ways. And I am sorry. All is lost here…except for soul and body…that is, what’s left of them…and a half-day’s ration. It’s inexcusable really, I know that now. How it could have taken this long to admit that I’m not sure…but it did. I fought ’til the end, I’m not sure what this is worth, but know that I did. I have always hoped for more for you all…I will miss you. I’m sorry.” — Our Man

4 out of 5 stars


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