‘All is Lost’ features Robert Redford and no one else

Robert Redford struggles to survive by himself in "All is Lost." Credit: Lionsgate Publicity
Robert Redford struggles to survive by himself in “All is Lost.”
Credit: Lionsgate Publicity

‘All is Lost’
Director: J.C. Chandor
Stars: Robert Redford, no one else
Rating: PG-13
4 (out of 5) Globes

Survival tales have been popular (at least to make) over the last few years, but none have gone as minimalist as “All is Lost.” “Buried” gives its lone star Ryan Reynolds a cell phone, so he can chat while in a coffin under the earth. “127 Hours” depicted one man’s isolation like a Gatorade commercial. “Gravity” is an IMAX 3-D spectacular where astronauts Sandra Bullock and George Clooney do a dance (or rather helplessly float and twist) around space with Alfonso Cuaron’s direction.

“All is Lost” has none of this. All it has is Robert Redford on a boat (and then a blow-up lifeboat), trying not to die a horrible death. The filmmaking is plain, serene, patient. There is very little score. Not only does Redford’s character not even have a name, billed in the credits as “Our Man”; he barely speaks, beyond a few aborted SOS calls and one super-expletive he struggles like a madman to shout through a parched throat. The opening has Redford reading, on the soundtrack, a letter, apologizing for some sleight or character flaw. We never find out what he’s specifically addressing. Even “The Old Man and the Sea” had more meat on it.

That, of course, is a huge compliment. However dazzling “Gravity” is, it’s at its best when its stars are going from one hurdle to the next. “All is Lost” is all hurdles. The first time we see Redford’s character, he’s awoken by water pouring through a hole into his cabin. Much-needed electronics are short-circuited in an instant. Our hero goes from one problem to the next: patching up the boat with a temporary salve, drying out his radio then trying it again, etc. It’s a dry film about process, punctuated with beautiful-horrifying moments like a long take where the camera sits next to him as he watches his yacht finally submerge.

Director J.C. Chandor is crafting a unique career watching people calmly dealing with catastrophes. “Margin Call” was made all the more intense by the sobriety witch which its financiers responded to a sudden economic apocalypse. This does the same thing, and even more impressively, with director and star crafting a character both vague and specific: We sense deep, personal problems but never get a clue what they are.

There’s honestly only one major misstep, and it’s really a carp (and a SPOILER): Like “Gravity,” it winds up taking on a quasi-religious bent. “Lost,” unlike “Gravity,” has the decency to save it for the very end, but the ambiguity — is he saved or “saved?” — only stresses how Chandor wrote himself a film whose ending could never be satisfying.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.