Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Robert Redford
Written by: J.C. Chandor
Directed by: J.C. Chandor
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for brief strong language
Running Time: 106
Date: 10/18/2013
IMDB

All Is Lost (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

The Old Man and the Sea

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, whose last movie was the brilliant and wordy Margin Call, All Is Lost is surprisingly spare, almost the polar opposite of its predecessor. It's a highly skilled and impressively unique movie, making use of only about a page of dialogue (the narration of a letter, an attempt to radio an SOS and one four-letter word), and one single actor (Robert Redford). Redford is onscreen at every moment, and he effortlessly pulls off this very physically demanding, commanding performance.

The movie begins with our main (and only) character, called "Our Man" in the credits, reading a letter to unnamed loved ones. Eight days earlier, we begin his story. His yacht has crashed into a shipping container, puncturing the side. He repairs it, but before he can get to land, a violent storm further damages things. Eventually he is forced to abandon ship and takes to his life raft. He ties to head for a nearby shipping zone, hoping to be picked up by a large ship, but his luck and resources begin to run out.

On the downside, the movie recalls two other, similar, "lost"/"survival" movies, Life of Pi and Gravity. Unlike the former All Is Lost contains no moments of wonder, and unlike the latter it contains no thrills. It's all business and remains rather grim throughout. It seems more determined to impress than to entertain. However, it succeeds wildly on the first count, which may make it worth seeing for many adventurous teens and parents.

Lionsgate released a Blu-ray that, ironically, in a movie without dialogue, explosions or a rousing score, really show off the sound capabilities of the format. Extras include an informative commentary track by director Chandor, and producers Neal Dodson and Anna Gerb. Otherwise, there are a series of little studio-produced featurettes.

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