Saturday, November 09, 2013

Movie Time

Robert Redford's new one-man movie, "All is Lost," is an  extraordinary tour de force.  There's a few words spoken by Redford reading from a letter at the beginning of the film and a one-word cri de coeur near the end.  The rest of the film is the sound of the sea, of water, of sounds made by a man on a deadly race against time and tide to survive against increasingly impossible odds.

Redford gives a powerful performance, the portrait of a self-sufficient, immensely competent man who methodically faces down each obstacle that arrives, stubbornly refusing to give in to despair or failure or panic,  bulldogging to the end with the quiet problem-solving determination of a test pilot in a broken jet hurtling to earth -- no panic, total focus, try this, try that, -- until, in the words of Tom Wolfe, the plane "augers in."  

The cinematography is spectacular, especially its use of scale (the small boat, the immensity of the sea) to illustrate the fragility of life and the utter indifference of nature. Or the use of scale as subtext.  In one scene, Redford's in the lifeboat and desperately trying to head into the shipping lanes in hopes of attracting attention from any passing ships.  Eventually, a cargo container ship comes his way but it is so immense, so towering, so closed off from it's surroundings so as to be a self contained universe all its own -- a behemoth too gigantic to notice a tiny life raft and a small desperate human.

That scene also recalls to mind that it was a floating container filled with tennis shoes, likely fallen off a similar cargo ship, a huge hunk of indifferent flotsam that put our sailor in peril in the first place by bumping into his boat and puncturing the hull: An indifferent, random, pointless, encounter in the middle of nowhere.

"All is Lost," is a riveting film; tense, exciting, scary, unsettling, beautiful, awesome, despairing, heartbreaking, exhausting, and triumphant.  Unforgettable. Don't miss it.     


Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

You know, I really enjoyed the movie, I thought Redford was great, SO believable I forgot who he was—giant movie star man, but the ending, ugh, dumb.

Churadogs said...

Really? I thought the ending worked on several levels: an actual (real) rescue or a metaphorical depiction of death (going into the light.) Either way, he triumphs on his own terms -- if he survives (for real) good for him; if he died, he died on his own terms, i.e. did not give up, but went on stolidly to the end, a kind of triumphant ending that fitted with his own values and meaning.

Sewertoons AKA Lynette Tornatzky said...

Well, yes it worked on several levels, but the swim up seemed too fakey to me to work on the reality level. And I wasn't convinced he'd let go like that either just because he wasn't rescued on the other tries. But I'm glad I saw it, it was pretty amazing.

Churadogs said...

Fakey, yeah, it was that, which is why I thought they were going for a metaphorical ending. I suppose if it was real, they'd show him splashing around in the water until the rescue boat came but don't think that would have been as dramatic. Amazing movie, though.