I have to admit that when I first heard the plot of All Is Lost, I was skeptical.
Essentially, the film is 100 minutes of Robert Redford (playing a nameless sailor) floating out in the middle of the ocean and trying not to die. Beyond delivering some deliberately ambiguous narration at the beginning of the film and then shouting at some profanity about halfway through the film, Redford’s performance is almost entirely silent. We’re never really sure why Redford was out in the ocean in the first place, though there are hints to be found by those who are willing to take the time to track down the small details. Myself, I know nothing about sailing and, considering how utterly terrified I am of drowning, I doubt that I ever will. As such, I spent most of the film not having the slightest idea what Redford was doing or why he was doing it.
(To just give one example of my lack of nautical knowledge, I was stunned to discover, while watching All Is Lost, that a boat can be flooded with water without automatically sinking to the bottom of the ocean.)
So, I really should have hated All Is Lost.
But I didn’t.
I have to admit that it took me a while to get into the film. There were a few times when I thought the movie was going to lose me. But every time that I thought I was going to zone out on the film, Robert Redford snapped me back. Redford brings such a sense of immediacy to his role that you can’t help but watch him even if, like me, you’re not always sure what he’s doing.
If not for the all of the Oscar talk being generated by Redford’s performance, I probably would not have seen All Is Lost.
But I’m glad that I did.