JC Chandor’s “All is Lost” is incredibly uneven film. It also gives veteran actor/director/producer Robert Redford the acting challenge of his career — absolutely no support and roughly five lines of dialogue. That’s right, the only person in JC Chandor’s 106 minute movie is Robert Redford, and like Fassbender in the Counselor he isn’t given a name.
The film begins with Redford’s sail boat getting hit and mortally wounded by a floating shipping container lost at sea. The container is full of sneakers, which is kind of funny in a morbid way because it’s one of the only things you don’t need when you’re abandoned at sea. Yeah! Suck it, Redford!
Anyway, Redford spends the first agonizingly boring thirty minutes of the movie trying to patch up the damage and eating canned beans. After 30 minutes of wanting to cut my fucking dick off, a giant storm hits Redford and shit gets real.
Then the storm goes away, and shit gets boring again. Then another storm hits and shit is off the hook! Then it goes away, and Redford starts eating more canned beans. It’s only until the final half-hour, the film is able to remain interesting during scenes not related to bad weather.
This is only because Redford’s stoic old man lost at sea stops focusing so much on surviving and starts focusing on the possibility he will die. By realizing his own mortality, Redford lets the audience in.
This is when Redford’s performance comes to life, and for the final third of Chandor’s film he gives hands down the best screen performance I’ve seen this year. I’ve always felt the best film actors act with their eyes, and Redford gives us an ocular symphony for the ages.
Suddenly, I was feeling everything Redford was feeling. While Redford tried to flag down giant container ships to no avail, the film’s title hit me like ton of bricks — All is Lost. It was at that moment I realized I wasn’t watching an abandoned at sea movie, but a study on the human threshold. We can only take so much. I started crying at that point. I won’t reveal how it ends, but I liked it.
All in all JC Chandor’s film is 1/3 awful, 1/3 good and 1/3 a masterpiece. I think the problem lies with Chandor’s inexperience as a filmmaker. This is only his second film, and to take on a project this difficult so early in your career is destined for disaster.
It’s a shame because it really lets down the work Redford gives us. With a better filmmaker at the helm, All is Lost could have been a classic. It’s still good though.