This is a dark, depressing journey of certain death. It is not perfect and never truly terrifies you the way Buried (2010) or 127 Hours (2010) do. The greatest achievements of All is Lost are the imminent feeling of doom that settled upon the audience and the spectacular performance of Robert Redford. Both the director and the star of the film make sure that you dread the end of this story but never let you completely lose hope. The film slowly drives you towards the imminent end as you see how the protagonist is struggling but keeps losing more and more. I admired the film for its awesomely dreadful scope and the way it keeps your hopes down. I did have a serious problem with its ending and as much as I enjoyed all that came before the conclusion of the film more or less ruined it for me.
We witness a tale of utter misfortune. Everything bad that could have happened to Redford’s character happens. There are storms, holes in his vessels, losing of chances for survival one after the other, getting close to salvation and missing it several times in the most depressing and devastating manner. J. C. Chandor makes sure he keeps your spirit down until the sailor himself lets out the cry of despair himself. After that you venture into an even darker place-a place in which you are not simply aware that hope is lost but that misfortune is obviously against you. In truth, the director takes hopelessness as far as it could ever go in the most effective way possible. There is 99 percentage of hopelessness and one percentage of hope in every single scene.
The visuals of the film also contribute greatly to the feeling of dread. The opening shot of the film doesn’t say much to the story but further on we understand. The film begins with the unlucky object that brings doom upon our character. Soon after I realized that every action, story element, shot and image in this film is connected with doom. The most visually stunning sequence is the storm scene in which we receive obvious visual identification of this symbolic doom. The storm is so much more powerful and this lone sailor and his broken ship stand no chance. It is a simple but very proper way to direct this type of survival film. Just like the main character, the viewer realizes there is no hope, but the film and the journey need to go on either way. We see Redford and his tortured expression venture into rising water, into a horrific storm that puts him into the most terrifying of situations. The protagonist is struggling but is weak in the face of this all-encompassing natural force that is making sure that he stays down both in his body and soul.
Redford’s performance is very effective. It is a physical, psychological and towards the last third of the film-deeply emotional one. Redford grows ever more tired with every fight he puts up against the sea. His expression grows ever grimmer with every wound, every compromise he is forced to make, and every loss he accepts. He is giving up almost entirely silently. He doesn’t say a word but that is why his acting in this film is so great. We understand how he feels not simply because we see what is going on around him but because we see the fear in his eyes.
The only things that I disliked about the film is the ending which was totally out of tone with the rest of the film for me and the incessantly unfortunate events that happened the main character. There was literally nothing lucky or positive that happened to him throughout his struggle for survival. Perhaps this is an essential part of the horror movie magic of a despairing survival film of this kind. Otherwise, as a work of art, as a thrilling roller-coaster ride, All is Lost is undeniably successful. J. C. Chandor‘s film showed me a man facing the impossible odds and his terror as his whole world and own life slowly vanquished right before his eyes.