MVFF36 Capsule Review – ALL IS LOST

J.C. Chandor’s follow-up to his Oscar-nominated Margin Call  finds veteran actor Robert Redford in the role of a lifetime as a sailor whose solo voyage in the Indian Ocean goes terribly wrong. Redford (referred to in the credits only as “Our Man”) is woken up by a loud crash while sleeping in his Cal 39 sailboat. His boat has been hit by a cargo container full of children’s shoes, significantly puncturing his hull. He methodically repairs the hole but there is also devastating damage to his electronics and navigation system. What follows is a harrowing survival story and an Oscar-worthy performance by Redford that feels natural and effortless. There is something about his rugged features that embody a sea-salted sailor. A caveat to my review though is that I am a day-sailor (no cross-ocean trips for me, yet) and the nearly wordless script is full of some utterly shocking things that an actual sailor would never do. To quote my husband, “It is editorial fantasy, made up of real parts, real responses and techniques in terribly bad order and timing arranged to give the greatest dramatic impact and most thrilling cinematic effect possible.” This is entirely accurate yet it never fails to be engaging, engrossing and powerful. The last shot of the film is a gut punch of surprising proportion, and Redford’s physicality and sympathetic performance buoys the film to the very end.