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Zack Mosley [Celluloid 09.30.13] thriller adventure

Robert Redford, four bits of dialogue and 187 quintillion gallons of Pacific Ocean. That's about all you need to know about All is ALost going in, but I need more words for this to count as a review.

Our Man is napping aboard his 39-foot sailboat when he awakens to torrents of noise and water, and discovers a hole in the side of the ship. He heads topside and sees that his boat has randomly collided with an ugly red shipping crate, inexplicably free-floating in the middle of the Pacific. Our Man is a man of action. He deals with the problem intelligently and efficiently, freeing the boat from the crate, angling the hole so that the waves won't lap in, patching the hole, pumping the water out of the cabin, salvaging what he can of his electronic equipment, learning to navigate without electronics, getting through the ordeal on pure piss and vinegar. I'm no seaman, but to my eyes, he appears to do everything right. But then there's a storm. And bad turns to "fuuuuuucccccckkkkk!"

Robert Redford is of course Robert Redford. To no one's surprise, the same guy who was killing it in BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID, JEREMIAH JOHNSON and THE STING 40+ years ago is still killing it today. His nearly wordless performance is fraught with depth and emotion. His character is revealed not through exposition or dialogue but through action. With each crisis he conveys a new level of resourcefulness, patience, endurance. The writing is smart. Fate continues to deal difficult hands, and Our Man is forced to respond with pure will. He exhausts every avenue of survival available to him, until he clings to life with the very last of his being. We're expected to keep up with this entirely visually, to sometimes bear with nautical esoterica until the purpose behind a sequence of events is revealed. It's powerful stuff, and I was riveted.

Between this film and MARGIN CALL, writer/director J.C. Chandor is proving a talent for small, economical stories with large implications. There is a subtle environmental/economical/social message here that is left to the viewer to extrapolate. Late in the movie, Our Man spots a commercial vessel with stacks upon stacks of the crates, identical to the crate that sabotaged him. He lights flares, but the ship passes him by, like a ghost ship with no living souls aboard. There's no specifically preachy message here, just a potent visual symbol of the alienation and dehumanization that is characteristic of the relationship between corporation and individual.

I'll keep this one short and sweet. This film is tiny, but huge. Robert Redford is a legend, and this is one of the finest performances of his storied career. Go see it.

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Speedy (8 years ago) Reply

Hmm, was expecting the container to have people or things in it... How is this PA?


Jeff (8 years ago) Reply

Perhaps more of a 'Personal' Apocalypse than Post. Looking forward to seeing this.

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