Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

All Is Lost – 2013


One man, one boat, 4 lines of dialogue, the vast, endless ocean and mother nature at her fiercest. “All Is Lost” tells the story of a man lost at sea following his boat’s collision with a runaway shipping container and the perilous journey he undertakes on order to survive.

Robert Redford plays the unnamed and mysterious ‘Hero’;  a stubborn, determined, strong willed elderly man who is surrounded by a cloud of unknown. He speaks briefly and sporadically throughout the film, leaving about 80% of the picture accompanied by atmospherical and non-diagetic sounds alone. The absence of dialogue which would obviously assist is developing the protagonist generates a lot of intrigue and fascination towards the hero. What is his name? Where was he going? How old is he? Why is he alone? What sort of life has he lead prior to this voyage? Who is this man?!


There are subtle indications into the sort of man the he is, yet ultimately ‘Our Hero’ (as he is formally known) is an unsolved mystery. For a man who is 3 years shy if being an octogenarian, Robert Redford has aged incredibly well. There are 40-year-olds who look far worse for wear than Redford.

The film unfortunately falls flat through several inconsistencies and continuity errors. In the first half there are a few noticeable ‘bad edits’ that disrupt the flow of the scene; for the audience to really experience and get a sense of just how isolated the hero is, the vastness and loneliness can be strongly implied through the use of long, endless shots that aren’t interrupted; frequent cutting and various angles becomes confusing and distracting when attempting to drive home the film’s sense of nothingness and hopelessness.


Other factors contributing to the film’s downfalls include the convenience of certain situations. It is above all highly believable as a narrative, however some ingenuity is required at times, luck is an added bonus usually. Little inconsistencies like the location of certain objects, the need for the hero to shave as an ominous and fearsome storm approaches and the sudden changes from being soaking wet to significantly drier take away the believability of the ‘Hero’ and his struggles. It is clear at one or two points that hero dries off abnormally quickly.

Fortunately these little slip-ups could work in the film’s favour. Given that it generates countless questions regarding several variables, it could be seen as a deliberate move to encourage the varied interpretations from the audience, that of which there will be plenty. “All Is Lost” appears to be a story that goes much deeper than the ocean.

Casting Robert Redford seemed bold, ambitious and risky when looking at what is required of ‘The Hero’, however Redford’s ‘Hero’ is so honest and believable with his own emotions, expressions, gestures and implications. It is very difficult to accept that Redford is 77 years of age, the man doesn’t look a day over 60.


Without a doubt the film’s strongest feature is the underwater cinematography. The simply stunning scenery from beneath the oscillating ocean gives an almost ‘other-worldly’ feel and a sense of salvation. The ‘worms-eye’ view of the various marine life silhouettes is simply beautiful but lacks one thing, that being the cleansing narration of Sir David Attenborough.

“All Is Lost” ultimately finds itself engaging, intriguing and submerging the audience with it’s “Gravity”-like solo performance-driven battle against the elements, yet it leaves a lot more up to the imagination. With so many questions and thought provoking features to this deceptively deep tale, “All Is Lost” is bound to be received and interpreted in several ways. Expect anything and everything, and take from it what you will.



One comment on “All Is Lost – 2013

  1. Not Billy
    April 17, 2014

    Is the character’s name All? Is it like Al but you hold the L longer at the end?
    Either way, I hope All finds his way off the boat

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This entry was posted on April 2, 2014 by in 2013 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .
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