Thursday, November 14, 2013

All is Lost (Movie Review)

The best thing, worst thing, and main thing about "All is Lost" in about the time it takes to watch the trailer.



 Alfred Hitchcock said with the best movies, you could turn the volume all the way down and not miss anything. Well, he would have loved this one.
“All is Lost” is a movie starring Robert Redford as a man struggling to survive at sea. Now, just so you know, I spent some time today memorizing the entire cast of this thing, so I’d like to rattle that off to you now. Ready? Robert Redford… Yeah, that’s it. He’s literally the only face in the movie. And aside from an opening sentence or two of narration, he probably says about a total of 20 words in the entire film. This is an experience movie. A movie meant to evoke emotion based solely on following the journey of this solitary man. But does it work?
For the most part, yes. The best thing for me about this movie is the way the film trusts the audience. So many movies force feed back story and character motivations, so the audience will “get it”, but “All is Lost” trusts that if we are watching this man we will understand everything we need to know about his survival. It’s a nice change of pace. It makes it feel a bit like “Gravity” on water, except even more willing to strip away the movie norms that Hollywood gets comfortable with. The result is a lot of silence and isolation just as there would be if you were in this situation for real. I also enjoyed Redford’s performance here, who even as he approaches 80 is doing some really great work. I love the way he plays this character as matter of fact about every situation, simply doing what needs to be done. He’s not the kind of guy that talks to himself about everything he needs to do, hes the guy that just does it and the result is strangely compelling. There’s a real audacity to attempting something like this and I really respect that, unfortunately it does have just a couple side effects.
One is that the emotion falls short. I’m connected to this man in such a pragmatic way that it’s hard for me to attach myself to him emotionally. Also there is a reason studios like to include back story, it gives us something to connect to and root for. Without it we are left to admire the human spirit generally and not specifically. But the worst side effect of this experimental approach is that there is almost no humor. In fact, I don’t remember smiling once and in a movie as intense as this one it would be nice to have that occasional release.
At the end of the day “All is Lost” is an incredibly unique and compelling movie going experience starring a legendary actor. It trusts the audience to get what is happening with minimal cues but leaves them without many laughs or emotional connecting points to hold on to. Lets go with a straight B.
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