News Column

Tulsa World, Okla., Weekly Rewind column

November 14, 2013


Nov. 14--"All is Lost"

Rating: 4 Stars (on a scale of zero to four stars)

If you think a movie with no dialogue has little or nothing to say, you haven't seen "All is Lost." If you thought Robert Redford had delivered his last great performance years ago, you should see this picture, in which he is the only actor.

If you want to see one of 2013's finest films -- original, moving and thoughtful in surprising ways -- you should not miss "All is Lost."

Like many a moviegoer will, I went into the film unsure what to expect because of the structure. This is not a silent film; rather, this is a man alone with his thoughts on a vast body of water, struggling to survive. The conflict is man vs. nature, and he is not the talk-to-himself type.

Redford is simply "Our man," as it states in the credits. We know nothing about him other than an opening monologue in which he is apologetic, and the fact that he awakens inside his 39-foot yacht to a collision with a stray steel shipping container that leaves his boat's hull with a gaping hole and water flooding in.

Redford is simply brilliant, showing steely resolve while being put through the emotional and physical wringer as hunger, sharks and violent storms threaten.

Working for writer-director J.C. Chandor (this is his second picture after 2011's exceptional financial-crisis drama "Margin Call"), Redford is absent of the political agenda that he's brought to his films in recent years as a detriment, and he looks challenged -- and up to it -- for the first time in years.

The actor must express every hope, concern and ounce of conviction through that famous face, now perfectly weathered for such a stripped-down performance in a survival film.

For those who presume they will have "I couldn't get past it being Robert Redford on the screen" movie-viewing issues, that shouldn't be a problem here. It wasn't for me, largely because I didn't feel like there was any time to think about something so trifling.

I was too concerned for "Our man's" safety as the 76-year-old actor climbed the massive mast of the sailboat to make a repair. I was too busy thinking along with the character: What's the next item on the checklist? What amount of food remains to be rationed? What's the possibility of drying out the radio equipment? How are we going to get out of this?

I felt a sense of empathy for Redford's character like I haven't experienced in a film this year, putting myself in his situation and becoming a kindred spirit in his cause.

With Redford not interacting with anyone else, I felt as an audience member that we were all in this together, and I had to respect the man's resourcefulness.

Movies like "Life of Pi" last year and the current hit "Gravity" have prepared us for a movie like "All is Lost," which features Redford's voice in the opening minute and then only to deliver an exasperated profanity later, which we forgive him of because he has been such a panic-free traveler with us, and because we feel the same way by that point.

Now showing

Movie Rating (on 4 star scale)

All is Lost 4 Stars

Gravity 3.5 Stars

Prisoners 3.5 Stars

12 Years a Slave 3 Stars

Enough Said 3 Stars

Rush 3 Stars

Ender's Game 3 Stars

Elysium 3 Stars

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 3 Stars

About Time 2.5 Stars

Captain Phillips 2.5 Stars

Lee Daniels' The Butler 2.5 Stars

The Counselor 2.5 Stars

Carrie 2.5 Stars

Thor: The Dark World 2 Stars

The Family 2 Stars

Riddick 2 Stars

We're the Millers 2 Stars

The Wolverine 2 Stars

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters 1.5 Stars

Free Birds 1.5 Stars


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