Review: Surviving in the face of adversity

Solo sailing is a sport that many view as extreme, even for adventure sports. Any type of sailing is difficult, but managing a whole boat by oneself takes sailing to a higher, more dangerous level.

J.C. Chandor’s “All Is Lost” tells the story about one sailor’s fight for survival 1,700 nautical miles out from the Sumatra Strait in the Indian Ocean. The film was recently released on DVD.

The movie begins with an unknown man saying, “I’m sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right, but I wasn’t. All is lost.”

Robert Redford plays the role of an unnamed sailor who wakes up to water flooding his cabin. In a serene manner, he climbs outside to find a wayward shipping container. The shipping container has a strong presence and foreshadows what is to come. It is a symbol for the oncoming storm that the sailor sees from a distance.

The unnamed sailor notices the communications system on his boat is damaged, and in an attempt to fix it, he climbs the mast and notices the storm.

Chandor adds suspense through minimal dialogue because the sailor is by himself. Once the storm is surging, the sailor ties into a safety system and tries to captain the boat while fighting through a hurricane, adding suspense until he eventually falls from the boat. After struggling to get back aboard, he runs into the cabin grabbing emergency supplies and food to escape with on a life raft.

At this point, “All Is Lost” is not figurative, but rather a reality for the character who faces a life or death situation. This leaves him with no other option but to abandon his boat and take the emergency raft. As he floats away, we see a sense of hopelessness through the slowly sinking boat that was his lifeline.

“All Is Lost” is similar to the film “Cast Away,” which stars Tom Hanks. Both the unnamed sailor in “All Is Lost” and Chuck Nolad, the Fedex time analyst in “Cast Away,” face similar situations by being lost at sea. The sailor floats along the sea on a emergency life raft, while Noland floats around until he wakes up on an island. Both men have no means to communicate with others, the sailor with a broken communications systlem and Noland with a lost emergency location transmitter. In both movies, the men are on a search for freedom from the raft or in “Cast Away” an island of imprisonment.

Since there is minimal dialogue and only one character, “All Is Lost” is developed and directed in such a way that forces Redford to play his role solely based on body language throughout the entire movie. Redford plays his role excellently, and he does a great job at displaying physical body language and emotion.

I recommend “All Is Lost” to anyone who has an interest in survival stories or artistic indie films because it is an intense, suspenseful, and entertaining movie. “All Is Lost” left me feeling intrigued about the sport of sailing and what draws people into it.

Our Grade: A
Rating: PG-13
Length: 106 minutes
Genre: Action adventure
Director: J.C Chandor
Starring: Robert Redford