Sunday, February 9, 2014

Video review: "All Is Lost"

In many ways, “All Is Lost” is 2013’s companion film to “Gravity,” though far fewer people saw it.

Written and directed by rising young talent J.C. Chandor, “All Is Lost” stars Robert Redford as “Our Man,” an unnamed lone seafarer aboard a high-class sailboat. Like Sandra Bullock in space, he is faced with an existential crisis when his vessel is fatally damaged, and he spends the rest of the movie trying valiantly – though without much hope – to survive.

Apart from a brief narration right at the beginning and a handful of epithets sprinkled throughout, the film is wordless. It’s just Redford’s presence, Chandor’s beautiful yet haunting photography, and music by Alex Ebert.

Trouble begins when a lost cargo container smashes into his hull, flooding the living compartments and shorting out his radio. He labors at repairs, but a sea storm soon rises and damages the ship even more severely, dashing his hopes at an easy fix.

As his situation grows ever more dire, Our Man must rely on his ingenuity to contact ways to navigate and procure drinking water – even as his will to live ebbs.

The comparison to “Gravity” is obvious, though another film with similarities is “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks. Made prisoners by circumstance, these three protagonists become our champions as they endeavor to use the meager tools at hand to fashion a chance at life.

A transfixing experience, “All Is Lost” should prove to be a true find on video.

Extra features, which are the same for Blu-ray and DVD editions, are reasonably generous, and include a feature-length commentary track by /Chandor and his producers – though not Redford, alas.

There are also a number of short featurettes and vignettes focusing on storyboards, special effects, sound design and editing, the script, director and star.



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