All Is Lost - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

All Is Lost Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ February 10, 2014
Never felt more appreciative of dry land before in my life.
Super Reviewer
March 21, 2014
Redford is really good in this dialogue-free film, but I gotta say my hat's off to the director. As I was watching, I noticed I was holding my breath at times. Really, an exceptional film.
Super Reviewer
½ February 28, 2014
In dealing with the financial meltdown of an investment bank, J.C. Chandor's directorial debut "Margin Call" in 2011, was an impressively handled, fast paced and very dialogue driven film. It also had a who's who of familiar actors as they wheeled and dealed their way out of their crisis with a spot of verbal jousting. Now, in only his second feature, Chandor has left all that behind and delivers a film that couldn't be further from his debut. There's only one actor and you're lucky if you get a couple of lines of dialogue in the entire film.

In the Indian Ocean, a man (Robert Redford) wakes up on his yacht to find that a shipping container, that has been left adrift in the seas, has collided with him. It's ripped a hole in his hull and he's quickly taking in water. He manages to patch it up but a violent storm brings yet more problems and soon, time is running out for him.

As the film opens we are told that it is 1700 nautical miles from the Sumatra straits. That's about all we get in determining where our protagonist is. He's never actually named either - referred only as 'Our Man' in the end credits - so we don't know who he is or why he's there, other than some brief voiceover dialogue informing us that he's sorry for something. Again, we don't know what he's done or who he's apologising to - possibly his family. Either way, he's alone on his yacht and we don't know where he's heading to. That's about as much information as we are given and it doesn't get any clearer. It's this very ambiguity that sets the films tone; it doesn't concern itself with details or backstory or even much dialogue for that matter. This is a meditation on human resilience and determination. Anything else other than that leaves us just as alone as our nameless protagonist. Chandor's intention is to obviously keep things at a minimum and force us to look for the film's themes. Finding these themes, though, is just as elusive as our characters chances of survival. Maybe I missed the point, but all I could find here was the was he was going through some form of penance for his past misdeeds or that the story is an allegory for mortality. Other than that, I felt as lost as him and could fully relate to the film's appropriate title.

That being said, there's still much to admire here. Chandor's minimalist approach manages to balance the vast open space with a real sense of claustrophobia and Redford's paired down performance is absolutely captivating. He has such a comforting and recognisable presence that it's easy to adapt to his character and his isolation. It takes a great actor to be able to hold your attention when they are practically saying nothing and completely carrying a film on their own. Redford's work here is reminiscent of Tom Hanks' exemplary and Oscar nominated performance in "Cast Away" and it's hard to accept that he missed out on an nomination himself, when many expected him to feature. His performance is a very physical one and all the more impressive considering he's now at the tail-end of his 70's. It's a lonely and gruelling journey and despite the lack of dialogue, Redford's subtlety speaks volumes. It's almost as if we we can hear his internal dialogue and the conversation he's continually having with himself. There is much to recommend this film but if there's only one reason to see it, it would be for Redford.

Most of the ingredients are here for a potential modern classic. Chandor's direction is impressive, as is Redford's outstanding central performance. Alex Ebert also conducts a wonderfully ethereal music score that compliments the powerful cinematography.
However, as much as I enjoyed "All Is Lost" for these attributes, I struggled with it's relentlessness and couldn't really see the point of it all.

Mark Walker
Super Reviewer
½ February 13, 2014
An exceptional, near-masterstroke of a movie detailing the struggles of an old sailor (Robert Redford) and his efforts to survive after his ship is severely damages by a freight container and rough storms. Redford, in his finest performance in years, is completely arresting as a figure who we know nothing about, not even his name, but who has the audience's support given his tough-as-nails demeanor despite all the hardships he continually faces. Director J.C. Chandor does a terrific job casting the likelihood of survival for his lone character very much in doubt, with an ending masked in dread with a faint light at the end of the tunnel. It is one of the best films from 2013, another fantastic turn from Redford, and a movie that should be put into the same category as "Gravity" given the subject material.
Super Reviewer
½ January 26, 2014
Redford carries this one-man movie on his shoulders, proving what a harrowing and absorbing experience it can be to follow a man lost at sea and struggling for survival, and all his solid work is complemented by a haunting score and an impressive job in sound design.
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2014
Survival Dramas are rare to pull off due to the fact that there is not much to work with in terms of acting, story and overall pacing of the film. With All is Lost, we get a survivalist drama that moves at a fast pace because there is so much happening on-screen. Considering that the film only stars one actor, this is a truly engaging feature to the fact that Robert Redford is a standout talent who is able to sink you into the film's story by displaying an intense, magnetic performance. The story is simple and effective. While using basic elements, the film doesn't sugar coat anything and offers audiences a good old fashioned type of drama. To me, these films are much more satisfying because, they are straight to the point type of movies, and they don't try to over saturate the film's material by overdoing anything. All is Lost is as simple a story as it gets, it doesn't rely on an over the top performance and it's a brilliant film, one that proves you can do great things with the simplest of ideas. Survival films are nothing new, but this is one of the more impressive films in the genre because it relies on visuals and an effective performance by one actor. Redford displays his talents very well on-screen, and you are in the journey for survival with him from start to finish. Although not a perfect film, and people may not get into this one because at times it may seem a little tedious, All is Lost will definitely provide for an exhilarating hour and a half for genre fans. For a film with barely any dialogue, this is an impressive picture that is worth viewing.
Super Reviewer
January 12, 2014
Simpletons will absolutely adore this film, because it is one of the few films out there that really has nothing special about it unless you see the symbolism. Due to it's very simple story, you are able to clearly see what the writer and director were trying to convert to their audience. It may not be the best story in the world, but when you pretty much have a dialogue free picture with only one actor on screen the entire time, it becomes difficult to not become bored. That is not the case here. It will spoil the symbols if I say what I believe the story of this film to be, so we will leave it at a man on his boat trying to survive. I really enjoyed watching this picture and the last scene really left an impact on me. Definitely worth a view to see what the meaning is to you at the end. "All is Lost"is a very well made film with a great performance by Robert Redford.
Super Reviewer
½ January 8, 2014
this is really an excellent film. it is held back only by the length it takes for redford's character to take an emotional turn, which is quite late in the film and much latter than could be expected for someone in a situation like this. but the story moves quickly despite the lack of speech through nearly all of it, and redford's performance was charismatic enough to make this work.
Super Reviewer
January 4, 2014
A man lost at sea fights for his life against all that nature can throw at him.
Films like Cast Away, The Edge, and Into the Wild all include another lost character to whom the main character can discuss his thoughts and plans, but All Is Lost proves that other people are not necessary to tell this kind of story, especially when Robert Redford is at the helm. Redford is always interesting, and his sparse dialogue doesn't encumber him. A film that risks being boring because of its lack of interaction between characters remains engaging because of Redford and the editing that effectively skips the meaningless preparations and moves right to the genius improvised stratagems.
The film's flaw is how cliche all the plot points are. Tankers that miss the stranded man, storms, and sharks are all staples of this genre, and I longed for an originality in obstacle that matched the originality in the man's solutions.
Overall, All Is Lost is more engaging that one might think, but its strength as a story is surpassed by other films.
Super Reviewer
½ December 31, 2013
"All is Lost" is 2013's version of "Cast Away"...kind of. Robert Redford stars as a man who is lost at sea and is fighting for his survival. There's no sharks, pirates, or crazy sea monsters. Just a man on a boat who is facing his mortality, doing whatever he can to overcome the elements and survive. Redford is absolutely amazing here. For a man his age(he's 77!) he gives on of his best performances ever. Now, there is very little dialogue here, some at the beginning and he yells a little towards the end. The rest makes this almost a silent film in spots. But really, it doesn't need dialogue to be captivating. It runs around an hour and 45 minutes and in the middle it drags quite a bit. I think if this had been a leaner 85 minutes, it could have been much more tense. But having said that, it's still a terrific movie, but it's probably not for everyone(with the no dialogue).
Super Reviewer
½ December 25, 2013
A pessimistic title and the prospect of watching a wizened former matinee idol adrift on an unforgiving sea for nearly two hours might not bode well for this film, but the narrative and performance (just one) are truly gripping.

A seasoned yachtsman's boat rams into a shipping container, and he spends much of the first act disengaging the port side from the container with a water anchor, repairing the hole while hanging off a makeshift scaffold, pumping out the water inside the cabin, creating potable water, using a sextant to map a course to the shipping channels - generally being a water bound MacGyvering badass. The actions are silent but riveting for his expertise and quick response. I've never actually seen Robert Redford in a film, but he is sturdy and spry in his first acting role in decades - showing off his avid stunt bravery, fair physique in old man sweaters and chinos, and gruff, lined face that needn't emote too much.

Nature continues to throw everything it has at the man, and he continues to fight a losing war - saying nary a word save for a dry mouthed, guttural "Fuuuuck!" which rang slightly awkward for Redford. This Man vs. Nature movie doesn't make me cringe like "Into the Wild" did because the man is clearly prepared for all manners of water emergencies; all is lost because Nature sometimes gets her way. The tension we feel is real, not just pity or annoyance for the ignorant and arrogant McCandless. The minimal backstory provides hints at some familial estrangement, so the man's lone sojourn wasn't motivated out of yuppie ennui but a deep-seated need to literally set adrift.

The moment he sends the message in a jar is so subtle and poignant: he cocks his arm back to throw the jar then stops short, weighs his last words in his hand with a tinge of hope, then just exasperatedly lets the jar drop in the water, sighing cynically at his fleeting ray of hope.

SPOILERS: The man setting his raft ablaze seemed like a last-ditch effort, but it wasn't clear. Did he decide to just drown himself if no one sees his beacon, and is drowning oneself even possible without an anchor? The anonymous arm pulling him out of the water into white light could be literal or metaphorical salvation. I enjoy how the movie just ended like that.
Super Reviewer
½ December 8, 2013
Never Give Up.

Very Good Film! Robert Redford has never exerted this amount of skill in his acting career. At 77-years-old, Redford taps into the epitome of the human spirit with no words to assist him. With only nearly ten lines of words spoken, 90% of that in our opening shot of a shipping container with no Redford present, he relies on his own mannerisms and dexterity to bridge us comfortably and confidently into our tale. It's his best performance in the last 25 years. As it would be expected in a film with no dialogue, the sound design becomes the forefront and star. Rain and ocean rush across the screen and speakers to place us right in the moment. A fierce intensity boils to the brim when the sound really takes off. It's not as simple as sitting in a life raft and watching the rain fall; in many ways, "All is Lost" acts as an independent action thriller with a strong narrative device, something we don't see too often. "All is Lost" is one of the more pleasing and emotionally satisfying dramas of the year that had me at the edge of my seat. Simple and without plot edges, All is Lost was worth the excursion.

Deep into a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean, an unnamed man (Redford) wakes to find his 39-foot yacht taking on water after a collision with a shipping container left floating on the high seas. With his navigation equipment and radio disabled, the man sails unknowingly into the path of a violent storm. Despite his success in patching the breached hull, his mariner's intuition and a strength that belies his age, the man barely survives the tempest. Using only a sextant and nautical maps to chart his progress, he is forced to rely on ocean currents to carry him into a shipping lane in hopes of hailing a passing vessel. But with the sun unrelenting, sharks circling and his meager supplies dwindling, the ever-resourceful sailor soon finds himself staring his mortality in the face.
Nate Z.
Super Reviewer
½ December 4, 2013
J.C. Chandor, nominated for an Oscar for writing Margin Call, chose a curious follow-up. In All is Lost, Chandor serves as writer/director and takes acting legend Robert Redford, strands him in the middle of the ocean, and watches him flounder. Considering Margin Call was heavily dialogue-driven, it's an interesting detour to a nearly wordless film. Redford plays an older sea-faring gentleman who discovers one morning that his boat has been damaged by a floating shipping container. He has to repair the hole and take inventory of his remaining supplies. As his boat takes on more water, being battered by storms, Redford must strive to reach a shipping lane as his best bet to be rescued.

Allow me to furor my brow at the reception All is Lost has gotten thus far. It's not a bad movie but when you boil it down it's a rendition of The Old Man and the Sea minus, you know, the giant fish. I knew going in that the film was going to be minimalist, but I didn't think it would be this dull. It is literally a guy manning a boat for 90 minutes, patching things up, with the situation getting worse. Then he's in a raft. Then he's low on supplies. Then, well, it ends pretty much how you'd expect though with a flicker of ambiguity for the squeamish. The drama of human survival, of man against nature, can be plenty invigorating, but instead Chandor takes a more leisurely and studiously pessimistic approach, and so we watch Redford slowly fail. The filmmaking can barely keep your interest. He hoists the sale. He tends a hole in his boat. He salvages electronics. There are a couple of choppy storms that throw the ship around, but The Perfect Storm this isn't. Nor is it Open Water. There is a certain brainy enjoyment from survival thrillers, thinking alongside the characters, but our opportunities are absent here unless you know a thing or two about sailing, otherwise I just kept thinking, "fix the hole in your boat." It takes a good while, until the third act when Redford is forced to abandon his sinking vessel, before the perilous reality seems to settle in. Beforehand it feels like the film is dawdling, and I just found myself shrugging and growing restless. It feels callow of me to complain that not enough happens onscreen when I'm watching a man struggle to survive at sea, but that's because the sense of urgency is nil. I watched Redford eat beans out of a can more than I saw him sweat over his predicament. I wish Redford had been paired with a tiger or a volleyball for decent screen company.

This is very much a one-man show with Redford ably holding the screen, but will you care about his character and his plight? The character is nonexistent, far more so than the similar charge against the other awards-friendly survival thriller, Gravity. I always felt like I was observing Redford from a distance, never fully emotionally engaged, and more so just studying his survival skills like there might be a test later. That's because Redford serves as a metaphorical stand-in for all of humanity (the character's listed name is "Our Man"); the movie feels replete with allegory, which makes the tedium all the more unbearable for me. I didn't feel the man's horror or nerves or despair or urgency. I didn't feel much of anything. That's because I believe that Redford's acting history is meant to fill in for the absence of character. We're not watching any man brave the dangers of the ocean, we're watching the aging Hollywood screen idol dig into his own screen history and showcase what remains. It's a fine performance that kept me watching but it felt too modulated, too controlled, too internalized to translate the myriad of emotions necessary. It's 90 minutes of Redford standing in for himself standing in for humanity, named "Our Guy," remember. That already sounds laborious.

Chandor received notoriety for his smart, hard-hitting Mamet-esque dialogue, and deft handling of actors, but All is Lost showcases a whole other set of skills in his storyteller toolbox. Being nearly wordless, the movie is one giant exercise in visual storytelling. Chandor's camera angles, editing, and in particular the use of sound and lighting, keep the audience oriented smoothly. While it may take a moment to gauge what Redford is doing, there is a logical connection to his actions. There's a visual mastery here that was not even hinted at with Margin Call, which was mostly a stage play of boardroom conversations put on film. The special effects are seamlessly integrated into the film and having Redford perform many of his own stunts adds to the overall verisimilitude, the film's calling card. I feel like Chandor the director outdid Chandor the writer.

All is Lost is a film I can better respect than support, an intellectual exercise in a deteriorating and seemingly doomed survival scenario, the anti-Cast Away. It's probably as realistic as these things get, but does that make it interesting? The details of reality are there but the story and especially the character work is lagging. It's nice to see Redford with such a meaty part, and obviously one he is connecting with, but I wish his talents were put to greater non-metaphorical purposes. With the plot and characterization stripped, it appears that Chandor's film is rife for allegorical analysis, noting the struggle in the face of overwhelming odds, the futility of existence, etc. To me, that sounds like you're doing the movie's work for it. The overall lack of urgency just wrings out what entertainment there could have been with this tale of survival. When your main character doesn't recognize the threat, then that transfers to the audience, and we too shrug. All is Lost is certainly well made from a technical standpoint, with Chandor showing impressive visual storytelling prowess, but it drags and offers little incentive to connect. What ends up being lost is your patience and attention.

Nate's Grade: B-
Super Reviewer
August 29, 2013
Mercilessly depressing but thematically rich, "All is Lost" will undoubtedly feel unsatisfactory for many, but it is undoubtedly masterful in its craft, with beautiful cinematography, a stunning silent performance, and fantastic sound design. "All is Lost" is a realistic and spectacular depiction of both the aging process and being lost at sea.
Super Reviewer
October 28, 2013
One of the unspoken things about Redford is how he has practically embodied the very idea of Hollywood star: when has he not looked good? Well, age has chipped at the armor of perfection just a very little bit and so I witnessed the first Redford film wherein he looked like a regular guy. And so was embroiled in the little gem of a survival tale, one man against a world that doesn't care. All but silent, still Redford, but Redford a regular guy. Nice.
Super Reviewer
½ November 13, 2013
A man (Robert Redford) who is sailing a yacht solo in the Indian Ocean finds himself lost at sea after his hull is breached by floating debris. Redford and writer/director J.C. Chandor do an impressive job of milking maximum tension and pathos out of this nearly dialogue-free, one actor contest between a man and the sea.
Super Reviewer
November 3, 2013
'All Is Lost'. A near-wordless marvel! Robert Redford's physical, nuanced performance is simply perfect. The score and sea, worthy allies.

The screenplay is daring, betting everything on Our Man, and succeeding in a big way. Redford's weathered face produces a gamut of expressions, clearly conveying his internal thoughts. The calmness and brutal nature of the sea is something I'm always in awe of; this film captures it in all the right ways.
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