Three of us saw "All Is Lost", a near dialogue-free film about a man battling the sea at the BFI London Film Festival's "Thrill" section, for the whole duration of the film the sold out cinema were holding their breath.
The "lone man" is Robert Redford, "the sea" is Indian Ocean. Redford (no name is given for the hero) is awakened one morning to find his yacht damaged by an astray shipping container, and taking on water through the wreckage. The yacht is restored within a couple of days, but all the electric equipment is more or less damaged and we are shown dark and ominous clouds on the horizon. And then all hell breaks loose, which lead Redford to abandon the vessel in favour of an inflatable life raft. By plummeting the audience directly into the action and refusing to fill the viewers on the material background of our hero (who is he, why is here alone in the middle of the Indian Ocean, what are his regrets), in my opinion brilliant J.C. Chandor (whose debut was brilliant Margin Call [DVD
]) creates an severe and sombre shot of one man's struggle, skills, and determination to survive - all fantastically performed by Redford, who projects a quiet dignity of this unnamed sailor without the past in his attempt to navigate the Indian Ocean's shipping lane in the hope of being rescued (one of the most sad and breath-taking scenes of the film are the scenes where cargo liners pass literally meters from Redford's survival raft, oblivious of his struggles).
"All Is Lost" is simply a visually striking story about a struggle between a man and nature, this is not a film for everybody, but if you like the idea of such film - you will enjoy it thoroughly! But make sure you see it in the cinema. TV won't do this film justice. Moreover, it is in the cinema where you will be able to enjoy to the fullest the sound effects of this tale of struggle - the lapping of water, the groan of the boat straining to hold together, the creaking, the lapping of the ocean and the thunderous storms. The soundtrack is also good. The music in a film with scarcely any dialogue, the film about isolation, is important - and here it plays a big role, given the absence of any narrative.
J.C. Chandor seemed to uncover an unusual formula for success: one setting + no dialogue + old man with only sailing skills determined to survive = brilliant film!