Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Review: All is Lost

Written and directed by JC Chandor, whose debut Margin Call was a tautly-paced drama set on the floor of a Wall Street investment bank, this lean, nail-biting thriller required 76-year-old actor Robert Redford to perform many of his own stunts.

He is in almost every single frame and apart from a couple of lines spoken into a yacht's radio, Redford has to convey his stricken character's inner turmoil without uttering a word.

The film opens on a July 13, approximately 1,700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits, with an unnamed sailor (Redford) preparing to surrender his soul to the sea. "I fought to the end," he whispers in voiceover. "I'm not sure what that's worth, but know that I did ..."

We glide back in time eight days to find the same sailor midway through a voyage across the Indian Ocean. His yacht collides with a wayward metal container, which has been shed from a cargo vessel. The yacht's hull is breached but the captain patches up his craft and continues his journey.

Mother Nature is cruel though, and throws up a storm that batters the boat and leaves the sailor with dwindling food and water supplies. As sharks circle the stricken vessel, the sailor must use celestial navigation to chart a course back to humanity via the nearby shipping lanes.

All Is Lost touches on similar themes to blockbuster Gravity albeit without the whizz-bang digital effects. Redford delivers a mesmerising solo performance. Every emotion is etched on his face and at every heartbreaking turn, we understand the churn of emotions beneath his wind-battered surface.

Cast adrift with Redford, we pray for salvation, even when the last flicker of hope has been extinguished.

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