All Is Lost (2013)
Starring Robert Redford
Directed by J.C. Chandor
The film begins with the voiceover of Redford's weathered older sailor reading a letter to his daughter which tells her that he fought hard, but was unable to overcome the perils of the sea despite his best efforts. We then flashback eight days already knowing that something awful is going to happen. This foreshadowing certainly provides the movie with some much needed tension and does its job by keeping us on the edge of our seat until the man's inevitable downfall. As the seventy-something man sails the Southern seas on his lovely boat named the Virginia Jean, he wakes up one morning to his sailboat taking on water thanks to having a run-in with a large crate (the type carried on those giant cargo ships). While he manages to get his boat detached from the crate, the gaping hole left behind causes some problems...and the impending stormy weather doesn't help things either.
The story in All Is Lost isn't the film's problem. In fact, the simplicity is actually refreshing and feels incredibly natural. The issue with the movie is that I didn't really care what happened to Redford's character -- whether he lived or died made no difference to me. In films like Life of Pi and Cast Away where we've been given glimpses of the main characters' home lives, I had a rooting interest for the shipwrecked folks to get home. Here, it was really just a struggle of man vs. nature which inherently is intriguing, but didn't allow me to connect with the character the way I desired. I respect what J.C. Chandor and Robert Redford did here (although Redford's Oscar buzz seems unwarranted in a year that contained so many fantastic leading actor performances) and All Is Lost is still a really solid film, but they didn't create a film that had me hoping for the man's success which inherently seems like a bit of a problem.
The RyMickey Rating: B