Starring: Robert Redford.
Rated: PG-13. Action/Adventure/Drama. Running Time: 1 hour 46 minutes.
The cast list tells the tale; this is quite literally a one man show. “Our Man” (as he is listed in the credits), is the 77 year old Redford, alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean asleep aboard his sailboat when he is jarred awake by a violent collision. He has rammed into a floating shipping container that must’ve been lost at sea, and the result has left a gaping hole in the side of Robert’s 39 foot yacht. This unfortunate and unlikely happening is really just the beginning of the bad luck that Our Man will encounter. I would contend that no movie has ever had a more appropriate title than All Is Lost. Redford, to his credit, looks pretty good for a man his age. He wears it mostly in his face, but his body has held up rather nicely. He performs all manner of feats, grand and small, in a furious effort to stay alive, but he just can’t catch a break. I was hoping for a, ‘Cast Away on a boat movie’, but All Is Lost is no Cast Away. Too much adversity, not enough triumph. Just imagine if Tom Hanks had ONLY: crashed, knocked his own aching tooth out, had his flashlight burn out, gashed his leg on the coral, and found his dead friend; without also: making fire, learning to spear fish, finding the cave, finding the sail, finding all the FedEx boxes and Wilson. You need the highs with the lows and Redford just doesn’t get any. He gets to keep breathing, mostly, that pretty much is his “high” inventory.
All Is Lost lacks a very simple ingredient that helps a viewer like myself give a shit. Back story. We don’t know who this guy is, what he’s doing out there or why. And we never get answers to these aching questions. I imagined that at some point they would address the most basic ones, but we get nothing. Back story aside, you can’t help but feel bad for Our Man. But I spent the entirety of the movie feeling relatively depressed, which is not my favorite state to be in while watching a film. Our Man is persistent, if nothing else. He tries everything and seemingly impresses us with his vast knowledge of the ocean. But as Ross has already laid out, luck and fate have other plans. There are a few redeeming qualities to this flick. For one, the effects are breathtaking. The boat is literally toppling over and you, the viewer, believe it. They flawlessly execute scenes that involve yachting and the protocol for emergency action. That kind of knowledge can only come from experience or in depth research. I wouldn’t be surprised if Redford is an avid sailor. And the other redeeming quality is the message of hope. There are times when you can feel and see Our Man’s exasperation. But there’s always that shred of hope left in his eye, like he believes that his luck is about to change.
It was maddening not knowing why this man chose to be out in the middle of nowhere, at his age, alone. Did he lose a wife? Screw over some business partners? Was it on his bucket list? Or is he just a life-long thrill seeker? Not knowing who Our Man is and what motivates him, made it extremely difficult for me to feel for him and with him. At one crucial juncture during one of the horrible storms he went through, Redford runs into a pole and knocks himself out cold. I spontaneously burst into laughter like I was watching Jackass. This was a serious moment, but I wasn’t invested enough to feel his pain and the mortal danger he was in. It just felt funny and I hit “rewind” twice to watch it again. I wanted to love All Is Lost; I didn’t. I also didn’t hate it, because how can you hate anything Robert Redford is in? My feelings about the movie actually have nothing to do with his performance. He was brilliant as always. Ironically, later on in the night while lying in bed channel surfing before sleeping, I came upon The Sting. One of my top two favorite movies of all time (Caddyshack is either 1 or 1A depending on the day) I’ve seen it a jillion times but I had to watch the whole thing again. Redford and Newman are pure, silky magic and Maria turns to me and says, “He made this movie 41 years ago!” Hard to conceive the time passage, but there is no mistaking the magnificent career of the man. His face shows the wear and tear of the decades but he still has that magical twinkle in his eyes. He deserved a better screenplay than he got in All Is Lost, and I think he knew it on some level. Near the end of the film, after another incident of horrendous luck, Our Man who has barely uttered a peep, throws his head back and screams to the heavens “Fuuuuuuuckkk!” I couldn’t agree more Robert, fuck it all. Old age, bad scripts and your weird orange(?) hair.
It was by far the best part of the movie. And the closest I came to feeling for Our Man. We can all relate to his F bomb moment in some small way. When his head hit that pole, Ross’ laughter was too contagious not to join in. Even though I was still feeling pretty bad for the guy. The Academy Award winner does his usual on screen magic, but all in all, All Is Lost falls short. I think at this point in his career Redford is just doing what he wants to do. He must have really liked some aspect of this project or he wouldn’t have wasted his time with it. The score of this movie is definitely one of its highlights, as there is little to no dialogue. And Alex Ebert, frontman of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, cleaned up at the Golden Globes taking home ‘Best Song’ and ‘Best Original Score’. I wouldn’t say that I hated the movie, but I certainly didn’t love it.
Ross’ Rating: 3 Gummy Bears out of 5.
Maria’s Rating: 2.5 Gummies.