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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

ALL IS LOST

by D.E.Levine

A NYFF51 Selection

In all the years that the Sundance Foundation has supported filmmakers and seen projects through to fruition, it's leader Robert Redford has never been asked to be in any of the films.  He hasn't been asked to act or even do a cameo.  Is it possible that this rich acting resource has been completely overlooked?

Finally, director J.C.Chandor sent a 31 page script to Redford and asked him to star in the film. All Is Lost. Redford is not only the star of the film, he is the only actor.  In fact, except for a bit of narration at the very beginning of the film, the entire film contains about 10 spoken words by Redford.

At 77, Redford proves that he does indeed still have impeccable timing and delivery.  Since the dialogue is almost none existent, most of the acting depends on his body language, task accomplishment and facial expressions.  Physically fit, and an expert swimmer, Redford does most of his own stunts in and under the water, and never falters for an instant.

He is completely believable as a man  (Our Man) stranded at sea, battling the elements to survive and facing his own mortality.  Some will say that this is the best performance of his life, since he is on screen all the time and has nothing except nature to play against.  Others have commented that watching his struggle to survive is just boring to them.  The man sitting next to me had to get up and leave because he became seasick. True, this film is not for the faint of heart.

It's a very simple story.  An unnamed man (Redford) sailing on his 39-foot yacht, the Virginia Jean, in the South Pacific is left stranded when a Chinese shipping container of athletic shoes plows into his yacht which then begins rapidly taking on water.  For those sailors among us, the actions that Our Man takes to survive are fascinating and did I learn that the interior of the yacht was built by Mexican prop men out of foam rubber, to prevent the star from being permanently maimed when the yacht turns upside down or goes through other inclement weather conditions that necessitate it and him being tossed around violently.

It is amazing that this succinct script and 106 minute film came from the man whose last picture was Margin Call,  Even more amazing is the fact that Redford would take a chance on this project and that it could be accomplished so cleanly and quickly.

Certainly All Is Lost makes a statement that Independent films are alive and well and are a force to be reckoned with.

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