Robert Redford, once the Sundance Kid who made ladies swoon looks a bit weather beaten himself. He may be old and slow but his character is completely capable. He does everything and more to survive in his sailboat after it is damaged by a floating container full of shoes. He is smart, determined and Redford still has the charisma to hold the screen, even if he barely speaks a word throughout the whole movie.
All is Lost is the anti-Gravity. Rather than the biggest and best special effects, it is back to basics. One man and the sea and no 3D. Instead of the cliched characters of cocksure Clooney and tragedy stricken Sandy, we learn little of Our Man Redford. There are virtually no concessions to the Hollywood scripting strategies that keep people involved in a film. There is no dialogue. Redford doesn't even get a ball called Wilson to talk to or a video camera to capture his last goodbyes to his family.
Redford's man thought he had everything under control. When the container hit his boat, he patched it up with little fuss. Redford's sailboat is tough, sturdy and capable of taking a bit if a battering. It is interesting that it is a container full of shoes and the writing on the side suggests it may be a container of Chinese origin. I don't know if it is because director J.C. Chandor's last film was Margin Call but I was obsessed all the way through watching All is Lost that it was about the economy.
Really? A film about a man lost at sea is really all about America? The Chinese container is the up and coming superpower and it seriously damages the American economy by providing cheap products and labour. America thinks it can patch it up and stay on top but it can't. A storm is coming. This storm of previously poor countries taking a bigger slice of the big global economic pie will sink America.
Later in the film, Redford is drifting aimlessly and hopes to be spotted in the shipping lanes. Unfortunately the container crammed ships are so vast that they completely fail to see him despite his flares. The container ships are likely not American but they represent the first world countries that have so much wealth that they have lost sight of those around them that need the most help. Redford becomes poor, thirsty and starving and the people with their hordes of wealth right next to him cannot even see him.
I might be wrong or I might be the hundredth person to have commented on this. I don't know. Either way, if you found Gravity's cliched characters underwhelming then All is Lost is a welcome blast of fresh sea air.