Like bookends – or perhaps a double-feature for adrenaline junkies – “All Is Lost” comes on the heels of “Gravity” with the distaff and earthbound version of a similar story.
But where Sandra Bullock barely stopped talking during “Gravity,” Robert Redford barely says a word in the course of “All Is Lost.” The eloquence of his silence is powerful.
He is, according to the title card, 1,700 nautical miles from land in the Indian Ocean, a sailor in a nicely appointed boat, by himself. Well, not that little: It’s the kind with both sails and a motor, a small kitchen and bunk below deck.
All of which becomes beside the point when our man (he is nameless) awakens to the sight and sound of water lapping at his ankles. His boat has collided with a cargo container, which apparently has fallen off a ship and is bobbing in the ocean, spilling its contents – a load of kids’ sneakers – into the calm sea.
The hard steel corner of the container has punched a hole in the side of his boat, just at the waterline, destroying his electronics. So, after moving the laptop and CB radio up to the deck where it’s dry, he disengages from the obstruction and sets about trying to repair his boat. He’s knowledgeable and well-equipped, as well as patient, applying layers of epoxy to fabric, creating increasingly hardening layers to patch the hole and keep the ocean out.
He starts to adjust to the new normal – cold food, no electronics to guide him, teaching himself to use a sextant and to desalinate his water. He charts his course back to the shipping lanes, in hopes of getting help. But the gods, it seems, have decided to make him their plaything.
This review continues on my website.