Sunday, November 17, 2013

ALL IS LOST (2013)

Rated: PG-13

STARS: Robert Redford
DIRECTOR: J.C. Chandor
GENRE: Action--Adventure/ Suspense

Going to a movie called All Is Lost,  you may psych yourself into being depressed by the time you hit  your seat.  Sometimes a title is meant to mislead you. Not here.  Robert Redford's character is in trouble from the get-go. He's piloting a small yacht  in the middle of the Indian Ocean , and his craft has just collided with a huge railroad type shipping container. Now there's a hole in the side of the boat, and it's taking on water. 

Plot aficionados, this won't be your cup of tea. Because there is only one question--will he or won't he survive?  If you enjoy character-driven drama,  you're S. O. L. as well.  We learn next to nothing of the man. Not his name, nor why he has embarked upon his foolhardy journey. He apparently has a family somewhere. But then, most people do.

All Is Lost is pure action and a man's will to survive. Redford gets jostled about in the craft during storms and knocks his head. He tries unsuccessfully to send a mayday call on his radio. He climbs up and down the mast and does other manly type things. He charts his course on a map and sees that he is drifting toward the shipping lanes, and potential rescue. But will help arrive in time before he runs out of food and water, or becomes some shark's dinner entree?

There is one moment of comic relief where the man rears back and lets fly with an expletive to ring through the universe. You would too in his predicament.  It's a truly existential moment. Why are we here? What the hell is going on? The only entreaty to the gods that seems to make any sense is:  F_  _ K!!!!!!

All Is Lost is a unique kind of movie that won't challenge you much, in the sense that if  you nod off for a minute or two, you haven't missed anything. You may wonder why Robert Redford would make such a film. I think it's because he wanted to demonstrate what a tough and spry old fart he is at age 77.



As I watched this movie, I kept thinking of nasty headlines I could write: "Stick to directing, Bobby!" "All will be lost at the box office with this turkey!" or"See Spot Sink." I know, I know. It's mean-spirited of me. But so is ALL IS LOST.  Mean-spirited in the sense that it totally disregards the needs of the average film-goer. Now if you're an avid sailor, that's different. Or if—like most men—you are map-obsessed, ALL IS LOST will certainly keep you 'on course.' Just out of curiosity, I looked around the theater and I'd say 80% of the audience was male.

Yes, Mr. Redford is certainly nimble for his age. But the dyed hair (possibly enhanced by a wig?) and withering biceps were a dead giveaway. Much as I liked him in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,  I've always felt Redford's performances were pretty wooden. As a director, however, the man is a genius.

While trying not to nod off, I developed a mad-on for Redford's character labeled in the credits as "Our Man." People whose egos are so huge they think they can overcome any and all obstacles piss me off. This guy reminded me of the bear activist in Grizzly Man who thought he could communicate with grizzlies -- to learn too late that he was wrong. Part of me was hoping Our Man would get eaten by the sea. Oh well. The underwater photography was beautiful.