Saturday, January 4, 2014

Film Review: All Is Lost

Copyright: FilmNation Entertainment
All Is Lost is a terrific film. It’s original and different, a kind of film that tries to form its own world and not just imitate the real one.

The director J. C. Chandor did something very bold when he decided to venture into the realm of non-verbal storytelling. This film has no dialogue and only a brief monologue at the beginning. The film’s only character, an elderly sailor on a private yacht, utters a handful of words from the beginning to the end: a short and unanswered SOS call and a muttered curse here and there. He is nameless, and doesn’t have any background story that fills in the audience about his life or the decisions that brought him to the middle of the Indian Ocean.

In one moment, his boat is damaged and the cabin, along with his communications equipment, flooded. After the incident, his struggle to stay alive begins in its full glory and desperation.

Robert Redford left me, quite adequately, completely speechless. His interpretation of a man lost at sea is astounding. He seems calm and composed, and never gets out of ideas. Even when he is on the edge of losing it, he manages to stay alive, even if that means only a couple of hours. Enormous waves pick up and drop his boat like a toy, but he never gets disconnected from his surroundings, and thus, from his invisible safety line to life. Redford brings this unnamed, determined man to the screen very naturally, and soon become him completely. When I saw the film, I didn’t remember any other character he played in his long career. He was just that man in the sailboat.

I’m not sure in what condition has Chandor made All Is Lost, but a lot of scenes are brilliantly filmed. The space where the movie takes place is incredibly confined (a small sailboat and an even smaller inflatable life raft), but the director manages to literally turn all of that upside down on several occasions, when the waves briefly sink or flip the boat. His underwater shots, where colors blend and light changes, also add to the stunning beauty of the film.

But even in spite of the great actor and a very creative director, a man named Alex Ebert is the person who for me wrapped and tied All Is Lost in one of the finest movies I recently saw. Ebert made the soundtrack for the film, and his tunes are incredibly in sync with the unfolding story. The soundtrack covers the journey of the lost sailor, and follows his ordeal, but always underlines his solitude.

In a world full of words, All Is Lost brings to its audience an ocean of beautiful pictures and sounds that represent raw human emotions. As I said, it’s a terrific film.