All is Lost movie poster
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All is Lost
All is Lost movie poster

All is Lost Movie Review

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Robert Redford delivers one of the best performances of his career in one of the best movies of the year. He also only says approximately 50 words in the entire movie.

Redford plays the unnamed protagonist, who is sailing solo across the Pacific and Indian oceans. Things go awry when his boat is struck by a piece of debris, and then really hit the fan when a massive storm obliterates what is left of his boat. Forced to use his emergency raft, the man must rely on his survival instincts - and fate - to make it home.

All is Lost explains why I will never sail across the ocean in a small sailboat.

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor (the almost-good-but-not-really Margin Call), All is Lost is a visceral, matter-of-fact drama-thriller that succeeds by not trying to do too much. He smartly relies on his Oscar-winning star to do the heavy lifting, and the rest works itself out.

Of course, nothing just "works itself out" in the movie. Everything from the camera angles to the moments that let Redford do his thing are perfectly arranged to establish the isolated world in which the man resides. Chandor develops a lingering sense of foreboding and despair throughout the movie, though you don't notice at the time. With exception to a few fleeting moments, Redford's character never shows his fear or concerns, and Chandor rarely uses music or other thematic elements to emphasize the man's decreasing chance of survival.

Despite the technical simplicity of the production, All is Lost is a gripping, engaging thriller unlike anything else released this year. Redford rarely speaks, but he brings the story and his character to life in a way few actors could. The result: one of the best movies of 2013.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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