Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"All Is Lost": a survival story at its simplest, and then a metaphor

“All Is Lost” is a set piece made as simple as it gets.  We can compare it to “Gravity” as well as “Castaway” and “Life of Pi”, and maybe even to some Hemmingway (“The Old Man and the Sea” has a bit more plotting). But here there is no volleyball and no lovable tiger to set free.  The sea is not so much a source of wonder here.

The sailor, a 77-year-old freckled Robert Redford, has been enjoying his solitude on a sailboat yacht in the Indian Ocean for no explainable reason. One day, the boat gets hit by a floating shipping container with tennis shoes inside.  Sea debris can be as deadly as space waste. The sailor even makes some crude repairs, but with subsequent storms the boat takes on too much water. He winds up on his inflatable life raft with a sextant, but even that isn’t enough, and big Maesrsk line ships don’t stop for him. As the film starts, the sailor is writing a letter to his family, to put in a jar. 
The film, for most of its 107-minute length, does takes us through the losses that make happen at the end of life.  In that sense, it becomes a powerful metaphor.
It isn’t fair to say whether he makes it.  The film is directed by J. C. Chandor and Zachary Quinto is listed as an executive producer.  Much of the film was shot off Baja California.

The official site is here. The film represents another distribution collaboration between Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions.
I saw the film in a late afternoon presentation at the Angelika Mosaic in Merrifield, VA.

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