All is Lost (4 stars)

All is Lost

Robert Redford gives one of the finest performances of his long career in this seafaring survival drama

It is almost 40 years since Robert Redford received his sole, unsuccessful Best Actor Oscar nomination for The Sting. Amazingly, he is quite likely to be back in contention this year for All is Lost, in which he barely utters a word and yet manages to give one of the finest performances of his long career.

The story of a lone yachtsman battling against the elements plays to Redford’s screen image as a rugged, taciturn individual, at home in the great outdoors and content with his own company. It is a Redford character familiar from as far back as Jeremiah Johnson in 1972, and perfectly suited to a flinty, minimalist drama that successfully balances the existentialism of The Old Man And The Sea with elements of survival-story ordeals like 127 Hours and Life Of Pi.

Redford’s character is alone in the middle of the ocean when he discovers that his sailing boat has been struck by a stray freight container, leaving a nasty gash in the hull. Water seeps in, destroying radio equipment and supplies, and leaving him fearing the worst as a ferocious storm gathers. His tireless efforts to endure and survive are depicted without hysteria or undue sentimentality, and rarely has a veteran star (Redford is 77) shown such a physical commitment to a role. As he runs along the half-submerged boat, hauls up rigging and plunges into the icy waters, you can only admire the sheer physicality of his performance. He also has the presence to sustain your interest throughout, conveying the quiet determination and stoicism of a man not yet ready to meet his maker.

In a Hollywood that always seems to favour mindless spectacle and emotional manipulation, All is Lost is all the more compelling for the way it dares to put its faith in lean, pared-to-the-bone storytelling and a simple salute to the tenacity of the human spirit. One of this year’s pleasant surprises.

General release from Thu 26 Dec.

All Is Lost Official Trailer #1 (2013) - Robert Redford Movie HD

All Is Lost

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 1h 46min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: JC Chandor
  • Written by: JC Chandor
  • Cast: Robert Redford
  • UK release: 26 December 2013

After a sea-based collision, a sailor finds himself confronting his own mortality.