Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Robert Redford stars in the seagoing survival drama "All Is Lost." Daniel Daza | Roadside Attractions
Movie review: Redford finds a pure role in ‘All Is Lost’

Review » Actor shines in physical, almost wordless drama.

By Sean P. Means

| The Salt Lake Tribune

First Published Oct 24 2013 04:59 pm • Last Updated Feb 14 2014 11:36 pm

Robert Redford gives a performance for the ages in the survival drama "All Is Lost," in a role that’s remarkable for all the things Redford doesn’t do.

He doesn’t talk, except for an opening voice-over and three scattered moments of dialogue. He doesn’t interact with other performers, because his is the only character in the film. He doesn’t even get the luxury of a name, as writer-director J.C. Chandor ("Margin Call") refers to him in the credits only as "Our Man" — just one of the ways the movie lets viewers put themselves in Redford’s shoes.

At a glance


‘All Is Lost’

As a lone sailor weathering storms in a damaged boat, Robert Redford gives the performance of a lifetime.

Where » Broadway Centre Cinemas.

When » Opens Friday, Oct. 25.

Rating » PG-13 for brief strong language.

Running time » 106 minutes.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

After the voice-over, a regretful end-of-his-rope letter apologizing to those he has left behind, we move forward eight days to the beginning of Our Man’s troubles. He’s on a solo sailing adventure across the Indian Ocean when a lost container box has rammed into the side of the boat. The hole amidships is letting in water and has shorted out the man’s satellite phone and electronic navigational gear. But he perseveres, trying as best he can to patch the hole and keep sailing.

Then come the storms, which send the boat and its captain rocking and reeling. Each setback tests his resourcefulness, his strength and ultimately his will to continue fighting to live.

Like his character, Redford rises to the challenge presented to him by Chandor, to eschew all the extraneous trappings of moviemaking. The wardrobe is limited to a few shirts and a raincoat, the settings reserved to the boat and a life raft. All the "choices," as pretentious actors like to say, are reduced to a binary option: Do this or your character dies.

Redford’s weathered face shows the mileage of his long, sun-exposed ordeal, but his sharp eyes look out thoughtfully on the horizon and determinedly to the task at hand. He shows signs of his 77 years, but no sign of surrender. His character’s battle with nature is both external (from the storms and sun) and internal (from the aches and pains of age).

Chandor engineers this bold conceit, to put this character in this jam and focus our attention exclusively on his plight, and makes it work with bravura filmmaking. Chandor fills this tight space with details of a life lived well, as the tools that he will need to continue that life. He makes the sailor’s claustrophobia and desire as tangible as the lapping water.

He also understands how "All Is Lost" couldn’t work with an actor less iconic than Redford. The audience must be able to relate to Our Man for 100-plus minutes, and with Redford the audience already has a head start.

We can project onto this character a half-century of fond movie memories — of The Sundance Kid and Jeremiah Johnson, Senate candidate Bill McKay and newsman Bob Woodward, and many other indelible roles — and see someone we know. We have sailed with Redford many times before, and we want to see him safely home.


story continues below
story continues below

Twitter: @moviecricket


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.