What with having just seen Captain Phillips at the Film Festival last week I seem to be getting stuck on the high seas with veteran actors. The morning showing and press conference on 10/8 saw me and a packed house of pres,s viewing the new Robert Redford movie All Is Lost. A pretty much silent movie save a few lines of dialogue, a quick voice-over in the beginning and a rather perfect score by Alex Ebert (plus truly unnerving, yet spot on sound effects) this is an hour and a half of you living the life-and-death struggle with Redford’s “Our Man” character. A guy Redford says “was not a super human or a super hero” something he liked very much about playing the character.
It’s hard for me to describe this film without giving too much away. From the start of the happenstance that puts Redford’s seemingly well-to-do solo sailor in danger, to the trials of weather that befall him, to the ambiguous ending, All Is Lost is a near perfect ballet of a movie.
From what began as a 31 page document in script form, the director/writer J. C. Chandor says what we saw is pretty much what he wrote. As Redford said about working with Chandor: “When I met with J.C. it was one of those rare situations where you go on vibe and instinct, very quickly with someone and put yourself in the hands of somebody you trust.” And later he claimed, “When it’s all said and done I think this film belongs solidly to J.C.; it’s his vision.”
Which indeed All Is Lost is…exactly what that vision is though, neither man was saying. In fact, both were thrilled that one has big questions at the end of the movie, as much from the ending as to what Redford said about his character when someone asked about creating back-story for Our Man who has no interaction with anyone else and rarely says anything at all, let alone anything of consequence about who he is and what he is doing way out in the open ocean alone. All Redford would allow was: “He’s looking for something, there’s something missing.”
If Our Man finds it, or if indeed All Is Lost, it’s up to you to decide.