Written and Directed by Sundance-darling J.C Chandor, All is Lost tells the story of one man located somewhere within the Indian Ocean and chronicles the troubles faced across an eight-day period. With the title being All is Lost, it is safe to assume that this is not the most positive of stories for the leading character with a container colliding with the boat in the opening scene of the film. Following this, he has to contend with the elements and almost every conceivable issue that could arise during such an isolated trip.
Given that the audience is alone with the one nameless man (played by Robert Redford) for the entirety of its running time, to say the film lives or dies on the strength of its lead is an understatement. With such terrific casting and a mesmeric performance by Robert Redford, the fact that he has no other actor (or even inanimate object as in Castaway) is handled with relative ease as each wince, groan or even just the look in his eyes conveys everything required.
The astounding performance by Redford aside, the cinematography conveys the vast plains of emptiness quite magnificently. The film often interludes set pieces with underwater sequences and the visuals are quite stunning during these times. These complement the use of sound during these times. Both aspects of the film enhance the isolation that Redford’s character is feeling and the magnitude of his situation being completely stranded.
Given the astounding technical aspects of the film they add to the narrative weight that Chandor is presenting. In the history of cinema, there have been very few films with one solo performer – especially one as ambitious in its visuals as All is Lost – however Chandor and leading man Redford have made a compelling tale of a man and his struggle to simply stay alive.
To even attempt such a story and let alone pull it off is a fantastic feat of cinema and Redford deserves any praise and accolades on the strength of a magnificent performance.