DVD: All Is Lost


ROBERT Redford is known for his intelligent movies – those which are often slow burners that build tension slowly.

Now looking a little grizzled with age, he remains both a resolute and fascinating director and actor nonetheless; the golden looks have dulled a little, just as his erstwhile partner Paul Newman’s striking looks silvered with age. 

But age and the niggling frustrations associated with such are perhaps the background message and metonym of All Is Lost. But there’s also a strange, clever spirituality about it which whirls as a side eddy beside the mainstream drift of the plot.

After a SLOW build-up, the fascination and sympathies of the audience lie with watching Redford – called ‘Our Man’ in the film – as he struggles against a series of mishaps while sailing in the Indian Ocean.

What starts off as a minor crisis -  when a shipping container collides with the side of his boat - , holing it just above the water line, soon descends into a sequence of inconveniences and quirks of chance which merely worsen what was a seemingly manageable situation.

Fans of Redford might have noted in the past how the power of nature tends to be a running theme in the background of his movies.

And my goodness, never more so is he tested than in this film.

To continue any further would risk spoiling the plot, but the highlights are the cinematography and measured pace of the film; those who know boats and their ways, and the ocean, in watching such, will almost feel that ‘it could happen to them’. 

Maybe that’s the trick – half the fascination of the film is wondering if Redford will survive or not – and what one might do faced with the same situation.

And it’s this dramatic tension, combined with the haunting music of Alex Ebert (for which he won a Golden Globe) which makes the film a VERY slow-burning winner. Redford effectively experiences the ultimate watery bad day at the office.

He won the New York Film Critics’ Circle Best Actor award for the film and was nominated in the Golden Globe awards.

After the screening , at the Cannes Film Festival, Redford received a standing ovation.

Quite whether the film deserves that is open to interpretation – youngsters might find it boring, but for those a little older, it deserves our respect and attention, if nothing else, just to see another glimpse of a Hollywood icon in action, and, in combo with director J C Chandor, subtly playing with our emotions at the same time.

For someone whose stock in trade was initially his good looks, it’s great to see the full transition into the human ‘everyman’, hence perhaps the name of the character?

And for those who are watchful for such things, the ending perhaps has a double twist, hinting at the spiritual, aside from the more blatant. Fans of Butch Cassidy, and its famous ending, might recognise an intelligent twist on such.

A valedictory film for Redford?

Newman and Redford always wanted to make a third film together, apparently, after the successes of The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but could never find a suitable script.

It would stand as a worthwhile swansong were it the case, though thankfully more is in the pipeline apparently from this golden oldie, not least, reportedly, a forthcoming  adaptation of Bill Bryson’s A Walk In The Woods. Perhaps all is not lost after all.