ALL IS LOST (2013)


Starring: Robert Redford

Directed by: J.C. Chandor

Synopsis: After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor find himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, staring his mortality in the face.

It is a brave decision to make a film literally with one person and pretty much no dialogue at all. Sure, we’ve come close with Moon (1 person, plenty of dialogue) and recently Gravity (2 people, plenty of dialogue). Hell, we’ve even had films with plenty of characters and hardly any dialogue (looking at you Only God Forgives!) but All is Lost is certainly the winner in the minimalism stakes. It’s a pretty captivating film, although not for everyone clearly.

The film wastes no time in getting into the action. After pretty much the only talking in the whole movie (and it’s voice over on a black screen as well) we see Redford in his boat sleeping, when there is a big crash. He’s calm about the whole thing though, and has a casual look outside, only to see a stray shipping container embedded into the side of his yacht. Water is flooding in and things don’t look good.

The film is about one mans fight for survival, and probably also something more profound if you are a smarter person than me. Redford plays it cool to start. He goes about repairing the boat at a leisurely but methodical pace. He doesn’t panic, he knows the water and boats and he knows he will be OK. Then, as things get worse and his situation becomes more and more hopeless he starts to slowly unravel until finally he let’s out an almighty CUSS. It’s a good moment because, one, we haven’t heard him say anything all film, and two, it’s what you would have said as soon as you saw the shipping container lodged in your boat.

As I said the film is not for everyone. My wife didn’t like it. She thought it was predictable, and to some degree it is. But it’s still a tense film and one that shows that sometimes less is more. You don’t need hundreds of actors, props and locations. All you need is a good story and, in this case, a damn fine actor.

4 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. Sounds promising – I like this movement towards less is more. Wall-E is another one that comes to mind, from what I remember the first half hour or so is just him exploring. I enjoyed the minimalism of Gravity – sounds like this takes it to another level!

  2. Great review, looks interesting having a film with just one character.

  3. Nice review! I haven’t seen this film, but what’s your opinion: Do you think Redford deserved an Oscar nomination?

  4. Fine review. I think it is a disgrace that the Academy bypassed Redford for a nomination. He gave a great performance and has, also, done a lot for the industry with the Sundance festivals.

    • That’s very true, he has been a great ambassador for independent cinema. I heard that he might be pulling out of Sundance anyway? He said it isn’t the same as it was when he started it.

  5. I’m really not sure about this, I’ll probably catch it on dvd

  6. Redford was great here. Shame he didn’t get nominated, but I guess it was just too much of a tough race this year. Good review Thomas.

  7. Great review, Tom. Definitely worth watching.

  8. Pingback: LOCKE (2014) | MOVIES & MUSIC CAFE

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