THERE are only half a dozen lines of dialogue in this film, which catalogues one man’s battle of survival against the elements after his sailing boat gets lost at sea. Yet despite this, Robert Redford is credited with playing one of the most memorable roles of his considerably long career.
It takes a certain kind of character to sail for long periods solo. Who has not ever considered this when charting the voyages of world-class yachtsmen like Ellen McArthur or Chay Blythe? Apart from grit, determination and stamina, being a bit of a loner is a prerequisite for this occupation.
Under the minimalist direction of JC Chandor, Redford conveys all this through his facial expressions and body language rather than by doing the normal Hollywood drama thing of screaming at the sky.
He plays an older man who is obviously wealthy, but enjoys the solitude of long-distance sailing, and is also stoical, resourceful and able to stay incredibly calm in the face of great danger. We see him not only battle the ocean, but also deal with lack of food and water, being tossed into the broiling sea and having to fix the boat as he goes along.
Despite the lack of dialogue this is no silent movie. Sound plays a big part — the roar of the wind as a storm brews and the crash of metal and wood when a boat collides with a cargo container.
Gravity was all about surviving in space, while All Is Lost is about surviving in that other great wilderness, the ocean.