Help, I’m Drowning and I Can’t Get Up!

Just a warning: when you get up to leave the theater after seeing All Is Lost you’re going to be sloshing in your shoes. Your mouth will taste like seawater and your fingers will look like raisins. God knows what Robert Redford looked like each day when he finished battling the storms, getting tossed overboard, banging into the cupboards and furniture on his boat, and rummaging around in water up to his chest! In this solo performance, a tour de force for Redford, the 77-year-old actor braves the elements on the Indian Ocean in his small sailboat. What he is doing there, where he is going, even his name is unknown. There is no back-story to this man. All that matters is his struggle to survive after his boat is breached by a huge metal container free-floating in the ocean. The boat is equipped with everything a sailor could need if he were marooned, say, off the Channel Islands. But in the middle of an endless ocean, 1700 miles from the Straits of Sumatra, with no wind and a broken mast, there’s not much a man can do. Moreover, all the radio and electrical equipment is waterlogged, short-circuited, and irreparable. But in true MacGyver fashion, Redford spends the days “fixing” things: gluing, twisting, bolting, plugging, bailing… It’s amazing how much he knows how to do to keep a crippled boat afloat. Another thing that’s remarkable is the look of the ocean. Unlike the ocean in Life of Pi, it is not gloriously blue and inviting. The Indian Ocean here is cold and gray and the sky is relentlessly overcast— when it isn’t raining. Except for the sounds

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of the sea and the ferocious storms, and occasional unobtrusive background music, there is no sound in this film. Redford speaks briefly at the beginning and the end. The rest of the time he speaks with his face. All Is Lost is a tense, gripping, and magnificent movie. Look for it at your neighborhood movie theater. And look for Robert Redford at the Academy Awards.

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