DRAMA; 1hr 46min
STARRING: Robert Redford
Bonding: Dern (left) and Forte
With its paradox of silky surfaces and unyielding depths, the ocean tests the mettle of men. In All Is Lost, an unnamed man (Redford) is alone on his yacht in the Indian Ocean when the boat is pierced by a drifting container. The film begins with what seems to be an epilogue. “I fought to the end,” Redford says in voice-over. “I will miss you. I’m sorry.”
Writer-director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) then cuts back eight days, when the survival drama starts. Calmly, effectively, the experienced sailor works to patch the hole in the side of his yacht. He deserves to succeed and still might if the storm gods take pity on him.
Working alone, with virtually no dialogue and completely without vanity, 77-year-old Redford pulls a lionhearted performance from a wellspring of strength. For an actor to command attention while clinging to life onscreen, audiences need to feel that they’re connecting with the essence of the man. In this needle’s-eye hellhole, with Chandor nimbly dogging his catlike moves and acute, unmasked emotions, Redford gives that connection his every shred of energy.