By Sean O’Connor
Many of you at this point have seen the new sci-fi film “Gravity,” a survival story with only a few characters, not a lot of dialogue, set in one location. But you may not have heard of another film currently in theaters with a similar set-up: “All is Lost”, starring Robert Redford in what has been called his best performance in a long time.
“All Is Lost” can be described as a combination “Gravity” and the Oscar-winning “Life of Pi.”
Redford plays a man sailing on a yacht in the Indian Ocean by himself. He runs into a shipping container, has to fix his yacht before running into a storm and has to save himself as his yacht capsizes during the storm. (I promise I didn’t spoil the ending.)
Throughout the film, the audience isn’t given a lot of plot details. Redford’s character doesn’t have a name, says very little and reveals no clear signs of family or a home to us. Why is he in the middle of the ocean? How long has he been there? We don’t know. And because of this, the character (known in the credits as “Our Man”) becomes an everyman, and we as the viewers create his story and can identify with him more closely.
But here’s the best part: aside from an opening narration and occasional muttering throughout the movie, there is no dialogue. That might be cause for many to avoid this film, however, this lack of dialogue brings about one of the film’s strongest effects. “All is Lost” excels because there’s nobody for Our Man to talk to, and there’s no exposition that needs to be said aloud.
“All is Lost” is an exercise in telling a story completely through visuals. It’s as if the viewer follows this guy around, watching as he fixes his ship, stumbles in his yacht, swims in the ocean and considers giving up on life.
In addition, the film’s soundtrack matches the visuals very well. The music, though extremely simple, appears occasionally as Our Man is contemplating his situation. The sound design in general is fantastic, capturing the soft sounds of the ocean as well as the harsh sounds of a storm. In many ways, the sound effects and the music act in place of dialogue.
“All is Lost” is definitely one of the best movies of 2013, but is it better than “Gravity?” Well, only time will tell. But I will say that “All is Lost” seems to be a deeper character study, so if that’s your thing, you’ll love this film. If anything, it’ll be cool to go see a movie with one character, in one location and basically no talking. That idea alone is pretty special.