All is Lost (2013)


Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Well, that’s pessimistic.

If you know me well, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of water. Not afraid of it, just never cared about it one way or another. I can swim, I just don’t like to and haven’t in years; I don’t like to drink water; and I don’t tend to like movies centered around it either…but there are a select few that I love, like Life of Pi for instance. So, I’m always worried about if I’ll hate the next “water” movie or not. All is Lost is a film that I’ve more or less heard good things about, and since it was nominated for an Oscar, I decided that I’d go ahead and watch it – even though my personal hopes for it weren’t that high. I’ve never been a Redford fan, and in fact…I don’t think I’ve actually seen any of his films before this. So you got to take that into consideration when reading this review.

This film centers on Robert Redford as our seaman of the day. Navigating the waters, he wakes up to find his ship with a giant hole in the side as a random shipping container collided with his vessel. Throughout the film, this character follows the steps to fix his boat, but all really does seem to be lost, because bad things just keep happening and before he knows it…he’s on his own in a lifeboat in the middle of the ocean. All I could think at this point was…if he ends up dying I will despise this film, because in the end it really would have been pointless, even if it was realistic.

So as you might have caught, All is Lost was nominated for an Oscar, and I actually agree with its nomination pick, which was for Sound Editing. On a production level, this film is really impressive. Redford rarely says a word in the film, and he is literally the only actor in the film. Look at the IMDb page to this film and you’ll see what I mean. That in itself is majorly impressive, because he alone holds a task of carrying the film. The budget to the movie was also pretty low and the writing was smart, tactical, and believable. Like I said, behind the scenes, this is a very impressive endeavor.

I’m going to complain about something now, and this may only be my complaint, and I’m okay with that. Robert Redford was the wrong choice. There. I said it. He wasn’t the best actor in the world, because you’d expect a regular sane person to react to the things he goes through in a completely different manner. Listen, people talk to themselves. It’s a fact of nature. They mutter to themselves, they cry, they yell when angry, they get sarcastic when they run out of other things to say…it’s how the human brain acts. This guy is a machine. He does what he is logically supposed to do by the book, but his reactions are stiff and neutral. I saw exhaustion and frustration, but the reality of this situation would have him at his knees crying out, shouting a lot harder than he ever did in this film. I’m talking – face turning red and everything. Instead, the guy rarely says a single thing and rarely reacts the way he should: with shock, anger, and fear. I get that makes the style of film cool, but it doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

Also, the film doesn’t offer any background to his story. Where did he come from, why is he out there? Was he out on a normal fishing trip? Was this a leisure boating trip? Was he a fugitive leaving the US borders to escape getting caught? Who knows, and apparently who cares. I didn’t want his whole story complete with flashbacks, but I wanted a little more…like reasons to live beyond survival instinct…like a family. The guys old, he must have a family of some kind, right?

The Good:

Behind the scenes, All is Lost is an impressive film that must have went through a lot to get everything exactly right.

The Bad:

Sorry, but Robert Redford…see above

9 thoughts on “All is Lost (2013)

  1. I don’t love this either, and I too would have liked more character development.

    But Redford. Redford is fantastic here, maybe the best he’s ever been. And criticisms of his performance … Those I can’t agree with. It is subtle and that’s why it’s brilliant.


    1. This is the only movie of his I’ve seen.

      In his position, I would have been freaking out, and he’s acting like he’s done all this before…like it’s a walk down a park! Oh snap, there’s a hole in ma boat, let me just patch that right on up. I think the actions he does are brilliant, but his reactions are unrealistic. I mean, why on earth doesn’t he talk to himself? Why doesn’t he mutter and grumble the things he hates about that day? He just goes on like it’s nothing.


      1. I guess I would counter that you aren’t complaining about performance. You’re critiquing characterization, that the little development the character gets doesn’t work for you.

        But I think the way Our Man responds to this situation tells us about him: he is resourceful, smart and determined. Above all else he is calm. Always calm. He understands that freaking out will not help him, and because his primary character trait is calmness, he just doesn’t. Redford captures all of these traits with subtle perfection in a near silent physical performance. You might not believe the character, as he’s written, but that doesn’t mean Redford fails to bring the character to the screen.

        As to talking to himself. Some people (like me) do. A lot. Other people (like my wife) don’t. Ever, no matter what is happening around them. I personally think I believable enough that Our Man is one of the folks who doesn’t. For whatever that’s worth.


  2. Good review Dave. It’s kind of a damn shame that Redford didn’t get nominated for what he did here, because it truly was a difficult role that only legend of his stature could pull-off. But, once again, we’ll just chalk this up to the Oscars getting it wrong.


    1. Well. Agree to disagree haha. I know everyone loves his performance, but this is the only role of his I’ve ever seen. Apparently he’s big cheese, but I’ve yet to see anything noteworthy in my opinion. He may have technically done very well here, but because I wasn’t a big fan of his character, I didn’t think his emotions were right. I saw them as unbelievable, no matter how good he pulled it off. As far as acting goes, I still think it was Tom Hanks that got stiffed.


      1. That’s very true. If anybody truly did deserve a nomination, it was Hanks. However, if they were to get rid of both Bale and Dern, then I’d definitely say throw both Redford and Hanks in there for good measure.


  3. Nice review Dave, interesting take on the casting of Robert Redford. TO me i was more just frustrated from the anonymity of it all. None of what happened had any real significance, and if that was the intention of All is Lost, well. . .then yeah, that was pretty damn annoying haha. Also, that is a perfect “three word review” you have up top. 🙂


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