March 5th 2014 03:06
We listen to the voiceover of a man (Robert Redford) reciting his final message to the world; the evocation of the filmís title within this letter seems to predict a bleak, inevitable end. We then jump back eight days in time and the story of J.C. Chandorís All is Lost (2013) begins in earnest Ė and in silence. Nearly 100 minutes of natural sound precludes the use of human dialogue and as the narrative unfolds, the battle between man and the increasingly difficult circumstances of his battle with solitude, helplessness and Mother Nature are more than enough to sustain a riveting sense of unease about this lone sailorís fate.
Unique in structure, sublime in its effectiveness, All is Lost is a mesmerising film; nothing that occurs within its perfectly fashioned running time feels outrageously contrived. The brutal, fickle turns of the endless tides feel completely natural in their indiscriminate power to sooth or erase a lone figure from the map with a silent, anonymous drowning at any time. Chandorís direction is controlled and subtle, whilst Alex Ebertís score is used sparingly to provide some important scenes with a haunting, almost cathartic grace.
Redford, even is his twilight years, every crease on his face earned, keeps it all together for what is a physically demanding role for a man well into his seventies. Etched into his eyes are telling signs of fleeting emotional conflicts that reflect the steely resolve, objective diagnostic reasoning and fallibility when even a man of great strength must yield to forces too great to overcome. Chandor doesnít settle for an easy resolution either; instead we get a final scene that rings alarmingly with a charged ambiguity. Just which way the cards fall is a matter of subjective interpretation.
All is Lost opens in Australian cinemas on Thursday, March 6, 2014.