All Is Lost (2013)

All Is Lost (2013)

2013 | PG-13 | 106 Minutes

Action | Adventure | Drama

During a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, a veteran mariner awakes to find his vessel taking on water after a collision with a stray shipping container. With his radio and navigation equipment disa...

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • All Is Lost silently controls the vast seas with its minimalistic storytelling. “I am sorry. All is lost here, except for soul and body, that is, what’s left of them, and a half day’s ration”. Oceans. Contributing seventy percent of our planet’s surface. Their vast serenity providing habitats for submerged fauna. Their ferocious unpredictability offering hostile environments for explorers traversing such waters. Storms rage winds and torrential downpour, testing the survival instincts of man. They dissipate. Ruins and wreckages remain, challenging the capabilities of recovery. Summoning the cause for mental awareness. Alone. No outgoing communicative abilities. Just the tranquil waters that act as a lost wanderer’s aqueous tomb.

    Chandor’s survival drama is a far cry from his scripted financial crisis debut. Much like the ever changing seas, Chandor altered his style, offering a incredibly minimalistic tale with sparse dialogue. Aside from the opening monologue, which sees the protagonist read out a letter he had written in the future (slight foreshadowing), there are only three lines of dialogue throughout the feature’s runtime. Just three. One of them is an expletive from sheer frustration. The others are cries out for help, two distinct yet pivotal actions for the anonymous sailor. The visual narrative supplies a substantial amount of creative nuances that elevate the story being portrayed. Through menial tasks, including patching a hole within the boat and mending a broken antenna, this no-named individual is depicted to be a handyman. Someone who can improvise when required. Despite these shortcomings that he encounters in the first half, his calm demeanour remains prevalent. With no backstory included, the viewer’s imagination subconsciously illustrates a potential reasoning for this man’s lonesome journey into solace. All these minor nuances accumulate over time and bestow colossal amounts of characterisation without the utilisation of self-narration. It’s a testament to Chandor’s storytelling capabilities.

    The second half tests the mental stance of the protagonist with more extreme environments, captured beautifully by DeMarco. With just a life raft and rationed supplies, including a sextant, the man must employ all survival instincts in a time when all hope is lost. The repetitive nature and lengthy duration of the latter ordeal does deplete narrative energy, with the same actions being presented over a number of days.

    However, the most captivating element to the whole feature is Redford’s enigmatic performance. The only performer in the film. No one else. Just him. The camera is unequivocally behind, in front or over him at all times. This is his film as much as it is Chandor’s, and what a fine performance he mustered. Physically challenging, expressively frustrating and emotionally involving. Aside from a few facial movements that felt slightly nonchalant to specific events, especially the boat sinking, Redford offers a demanding role that is certainly one of his intellectually stimulating.

    Due to the minimalistic approach, certain thematic representations were somewhat unapproachable. The commentary on commercialism, considering a shipping container caused this mayhem to begin with and container ships ignored his desperate presence, could’ve been more profound had it acquired additional time for resonance. The feature solely focuses all intent on this mysterious man, and it works for that instance. The only other criticism is with the camerawork during the storm segments. Rarely moving in synchronisation with the boat and the visualised stormy backdrop, it made the effects incredibly noticeable which consequently diminished the scenario’s realism.

    Undoubtedly though, All Is Lost is an exercise in simplicity. Elaborate screenplays, expensive visual effects and an elongated cast list are not required to make a bold, gripping and audacious experience. All Is Lost consumes both the hostility and serenity of its open waters and compounds them together to produce a reflective expedition for soul contentment.