365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


All Is Lost (2013)

The trailer for J.C. Chandor's (Margin Call, A Most Violent Year) All Is Lost was absolutely incredible. It shows a man Robert Redford (The Sting, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) sailing his yacht in the middle of the sea. He has a smile on his face. The sun is shining brightly. The wind is blowing lightly through his hair. The shots of him are broken by black frame credits that say "Alone at Sea", "A Man Has Only Himself", and "His Will To Survive". And then we go to a shot of him sleeping in his cabin. Seconds later, water comes gushing in and it's obvious he has crashed into something. Then we see all hell breaking loose, including high waves, heavy rain, his belongings crashing off the walls as a result of the yacht being rocked back and forth and all around, his yacht capsizing, him saying goodbye to his yacht from a raft, unsuccessful attempts at making S.O.S. calls, and flare guns being shot into the night sky. All the while, critical praise is being flashed on the screen, making it seem like this movie might be the most suspenseful movie ever made. It's not, but the trailer makes it look that way. Check it out here.

This trailer when me over instantly. I knew that, unless this movie got completely crushed by the critics, I would be seeing it. When I saw the trailer for the George Clooney movie The Perfect Storm, I knew right away that I had to see it. I absolutely loved that movie. I've seen it multiple times. I loved the fact that it was based upon true events. What I didn't like about this particular movie (and others based on true events) were the scenes that were introduced simply to add drama and improve our connection towards the characters. There were quite a few scenes in The Perfect Storm that probably never took place. In fact, everything that happened after radio communication went down is a fabrication. The same can be said about the movie Open Water, another movie that I really liked and that was also based upon a true story. In this movie two people who are scuba diving in the ocean are left behind. We see them stranded in the ocean over the course of a couple of days. I enjoyed the drama. I enjoyed the suspense. Some people found this movie maddening. I personally did not. With that said, there is NOTHING that confirms that anything in this movie, other than the couple being left behind by the diving boat. For all we know, they both hit their heads on a rock five minutes after they jumped into the water.

All Is Lost is not based upon a true story. It's just a story that could have happened. And because of the problems I stated in my first paragraph, the parts that seemed a little far fetched, I was more okay with, because they weren't fabricated "What Ifs" like The Perfect Storm or Open Water. Robert Redford has no name in this movie. He is simply referred to as "Our Man" or "The Man". We know things aren't going to go well for him based upon the first couple minutes of the movie. A note that he has written is read aloud. We don't know who it is written to, but we assume it's to his wife and children. The words spoken in these two minutes make up about half of the words spoken in the entire movie. There are literally 30 minute periods where not a word is spoken. I think this works for awhile, but it does grow tiresome. I think the same can be said for this entire movie. A lot of it works for part of the time, but none of it works for the entire time.

When first hearing the Oscar buzz surrounding Redford's performance in this movie, I was shocked to hear that he has just one nomination to his name for his acting and that that nomination was almost 40 years ago (1974's The Sting). He has never been my favorite actor by any means. There have been quite a few of his movies that I was really, really looking forward to seeing that I absolutely did not like at all (including The Sting which I know I am in the minority for not enjoying). I think he is very overrated as an actor and slightly underrated as a director. I am happy that he has a Best Director award to his name (1981's Ordinary People), but I think that the two best films that he directed have been Quiz Show (which he also earned an Oscar nomination for) and A River Runs Through It (which is an absolute gem of a movie...if you haven't seen this one yet, close this blog and go find it on Netflix or Amazon instant). But this review isn't based upon Redford as a director. It is based upon the movie All Is Lost and specifically Redford's performance, since he is the only actor in the entire movie.

I liked this movie for the most part. I REALLY liked the beginning, but then it got really, really slow. It didn't get slow in a terrible way where I was just waiting for the movie to end (a la The Master, The Tree of Life among many other movies that I've seen in the theater). But after 46 minutes into this 1 hour and 46 minute movie, I thought to myself, "Okay, I get it. He's trapped in the middle of the ocean. He ship is sinking. Things are going very poorly for him. He's doing his best to survive, but is greeted with setback after setback. AND he continues to not say a word. Let's just move this thing along."

Visually, it is stunning. I think if you are going to watch this movie (not that I'm endorsing that), you should see it in the theater. The bigger the screen you see it on, the better the experience will be. However, I still can't recommend it unless you are an absolute film fanatic or if you try to see all of the movies that will be up for the major awards come awards season time. Redford is likely to earn a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for his performance. After seeing this movie, I had him in my top five. But not anymore. I have seen five better performances by a lead actor this season. Just because a big time actor like Redford has only been nominated for an Academy Award for acting once in his career, doesn't mean he should earn another one just because he gave a very good performance. This isn't a lifetime achievement award. Believe it or not, he's actually already won that award...at the 2002 Oscars. Chandor did a pretty good job with directing this movie. Together, he and Redford made this movie watchable and, at times, enjoyable. But in the end, it's just a little too long and we are left wondering afterwards, "What was the point of that movie?"

Plot 9/10
Character Development 7.5/10 (I don't see enough growth of the lead character)
Character Chemistry NA (therefore I will divide the total score by 9 and add those points at the end)
Acting 8.5/10
Screenplay 8.5/10
Directing  8.5/10
Cinematography 10/10 (stunning)
Sound 6.5/10 (the silence was great at times...but I could only take Redford's grunting for so long)
Hook and Reel 7/10 (hooks you early, but loses steam after 45 minutes)
Universal Relevance 7.5/10
73 +8

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