InReview InReview

Support independent journalism

Film & TV

All is Lost

Film & TV

Comments Print article

Writer and director JC Chandor’s All is Lost is a surprisingly tense and emotionally draining experience for a film that could almost be billed as a contemporary silent thriller.

It follows the ordeal of a sailor beset by a series of catastrophes while sailing solo across the Indian Ocean, and his desperate battle to survive.

Robert Redford, who gives what is perhaps the performance of his career, plays the grizzled, taciturn sailor.  Redford, now 77 years old, is the only person on screen for the entire film and it is a truly astounding performance.

The film opens with the sailor awakening in the bunk of his yacht to find that a stray shipping container has breached the hull and water is pouring in, ruining his navigation and communication equipment.  What follows is a gripping series of events as the master yachtsman attempts to repair his craft and navigate his way to safety with only practical skill and resilience to assist him.

Interestingly, it is the lack of dialogue and concentration on character that makes the film so mesmerising. The sense of isolation is palpable.  There is nothing to focus on but Redford, the maimed yacht, and the immensity of sky and ocean.

Lesser actors might have given in to over-playing the desperation, and it is a credit to Redford’s skill that he holds himself back. The result is that the audience is riddled with curiosity – who is he? What is his back-story? How did he end up here, alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean?

Throughout the film, the audience must continually cope with the paradox of watching an intimate rendering of a series of events happening to an almost unknowable character.

The silence of the sailor is another unique aspect of the film.  Aside from a short voice-over monologue as the film opens, Redford speaks a mere handful of times.  When the sailor does eventually swear, it seems the most anticipated, heart-felt and justified expletive in the history of cinema.

This is a brilliant film with an intense and engrossing plot and an actor who does justice to his extraordinarily demanding role.  The cinematography is breathtaking, especially the scenes shot looking up from underwater, with the lifeboat drifting amoeba-like on the surface.

Chandor’s clever direction avoids the Hollywood clichés usually found in survival thrillers. However, if you secretly nurture plans to one day sail solo around the world, All is Lost is not recommended.

More InDaily film reviews:

Dallas Buyers Club
Winter’s Tale
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Last Vegas
Grudge Match
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street




Make a comment View comment guidelines

Support local arts journalism

Your support will help us continue the important work of InReview in publishing free professional journalism that celebrates, interrogates and amplifies arts and culture in South Australia.

Donate Here


Show comments Hide comments
Will my comment be published? Read the guidelines.

. You are free to republish the text and graphics contained in this article online and in print, on the condition that you follow our republishing guidelines.

You must attribute the author and note prominently that the article was originally published by InReview.  You must also inlude a link to InReview. Please note that images are not generally included in this creative commons licence as in most cases we are not the copyright owner. However, if the image has an InReview photographer credit or is marked as “supplied”, you are free to republish it with the appropriate credits.

We recommend you set the canonical link of this content to to insure that your SEO is not penalised.

Copied to Clipboard

More Film & TV stories

Loading next article