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The Film of the Ancient Mariner
on 26 December 2013
Robert Redford is alone. He's nameless, listed as "Our Man" in the credits. For unknown reasons, he's drifting on a yacht in the Indian Ocean when he collides with a cargo container, damaging his vessel. This incident is the first of many. Over eight days it starts to look like some kind of test from the Almighty. All is Lost is a film about hope: how long it can stay burning, and when the candle will be pinched out.
Ironically, the films this most resembles are The Perfect Storm and Gravity, both of which suffered from a badly miscast George Clooney. Here, the casting of Redford is perfect. An actor of his history and status comes with enormous baggage; and, like Tom Hanks's Captain Phillips, it is remarkable and moving to see him throw all that baggage overboard and deliver a selfless and subtle performance of real force.
This is an "experience" movie, almost entirely without dialogue. It's all about the details of a man, alone with his skill and his temperament. The storm scenes are terrifying. The quiet scenes are equally devastating. Coming hot on the heels of Gravity, an equally high concept disaster movie, I would say All is Lost is the less showy and more effective film.