Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fight for Survival Is a Silent Battle with the Elements

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Fight for Survival Is a Silent Battle with the Elements

Article excerpt

Byline: DS

ALL IS LOST Cert 12A, 106 mins THERE'S a speech at the beginning: "I tried to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right, but I wasn't. I am sorry. I fought to the end -- I'm not sure what it's worth but know that I did. I'm sorry." And that's almost entirely our lot for words in this film. We don't see the speaker, just the ocean, lapping gently.

Then we go back eight days earlier. An old but fit man (Robert Redford, now 77) is sailing solo in a 39-foot fibreglass yacht in the Indian Ocean. We never find out why he is doing this or even his name. While he is asleep below decks, the boat crashes into a stray shipping container and is badly holed, taking on water. The man takes stock and makes an emergency repair, manually pumping the water out, since the power has failed. He tries to get the radio working, without any luck. He drinks some whisky, he prepares some food. Perhaps he will be okay? But then a huge storm comes, turning the boat over, tipping him overboard, knocking him out. The next day the man prepares to abandon the smashed-up yacht and take to an inflatable life-raft. He prepares as well as he can. He is, we are beginning to appreciate, stoical, resilient and competent. But all goes wrong for him.

All Is Lost is very pure filmmaking, set entirely on the water, without dialogue, just showing us the man's fight to survive from moment to moment. It's very convincingly realised, some of it filmed in the open sea, some in the giant tank built in Mexico by James Cameron for Titanic. When the boat turns over, you're right there inside it. There's an evocative soundtrack too, combining creaking timbers and crashing water with a minimalist score by Alex Ebert, often evoking whale-song.

The director of All Is Lost, JC Chandor, met Redford when he took his prize-winning first feature, Margin Call, to the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. …

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