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All Is Lost

Never give up.

Robert Redford fights valiantly our sinking feeling that he will not survive the gash to his sailboat in the lean, engrossing drama "All Is Lost." Weathered and riveting, he gives a physically demanding performance enhanced by a deeply laconic approach. The sophomore voyage of director J.C. Chandor, "All Is Lost" is a film of few words. After a voice-over intro that sets the dire tone with a note of surrender, there are perhaps all of another 10 utterances. This is quite the opposite of the filmmaker's or his star's most recent movies. Chandor's debut "Margin Call" was a terrific talkfest about a very different disaster: 2008's financial plunge. For his part, Redford starred in and helmed last spring's "The Company You Keep," about a 1970s radical on the lam and reckoning with his past. Our Man, as Redford's character is called in the credits, awakes in his modest yacht to a hard bump. A wayward metal container from a cargo ship has punctured his boat. Water begins to pour into the 39-foot sailboat's cabin. His communications are swamped. He appears alone in the Indian Ocean. For all its watery-grave concerns, "All Is Lost" isn't "Titanic" or for that matter "The Poseidon Adventure." This is Ernest Hemingway territory: "The Old Man and the Sea." Or Stephen Crane waters: "The Open Boat." Far-off thunder heralds a squall. Much of the quiet, insistent thrill of "All Is Lost" comes from Our Man's pragmatic acceptance of the dire challenges he faces. With all the time in the world — or none at all — he consults a manual on celestial navigation. He pulls a sextant out of a box. The instrument looks more like a gift than a tool. As cool as he is, he does make mistakes, as costly as they are understandable. This is stripped-down storytelling. The filmmaking is disciplined and aptly subtle for a tale more compelled by existential crises than driven by visual special effects, Although there are plenty. Alex Ebert, leader of the band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, provides a quietly plunging, occasionally arcing soundtrack that works moody wonders with the sounds of creaks, thuds, rushing water and hammering winds. A silver and turquoise band on Our Man's ring finger hints at a connection. Or is it estrangement? Like the water invading the vessel, we might pour meaning and conjecture into the movie's empty spaces. "All Is Lost" is very much Redford's triumph. His turn isn't pure disappearance so much as a brilliantly human example of cresting and plummeting, cresting and plummeting. Courtesy: Lisa Kennedy, The Denver Post Official Trailer
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Directed by: 
J.C. Chandor
Running Time: 
Robert Redford
Screenplay by: 
J.C. Chandor

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