“All Is Lost”
This is “Life of Pi” without the tiger. “Cast Away” without the Wilson volleyball. This is the story of one man, who isn’t even named, but since when does Robert Redford need a character name, anyway? And this one man doesn’t even speak, except by overdub at the beginning, because there’s no one to talk to. He’s on this 39-foot sailboat by himself, somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean . We aren’t told why he’s there: on vacation? Trying to complete a circumnavigation? Just retired and wanting to simply enjoy his own company for a while?
Nearly all of us choose to do some things merely to demonstrate to ourselves our own self-sufficiency. Some want to assemble things without benefit of instruction. Others want to build things by themselves. Still others choose to run races of a certain distance, and rely on their own determination. Others hunt or fish, depending only on their own resourcefulness for their success. Ah, but what if your self-administered self-sufficiency test goes terribly wrong?
First there’s the overnight collision with some random floating container that must have fallen off one of those huge cargo ships. It’s one of those trailers that’s big enough to be attached to an 18-wheeler, and it puts a big ugly gash in the side of the boat.
Then there’s the huge storm which destroys rigging, and also radio contact. Then there’s the next storm, which forces an emergency evacuation onto the inflatable life raft. But even then, if he can just sent up a flare to get the attention of a passing cargo ship….But No. No such luck.
The fishing doesn’t work too well, either, because the sharks snatch the catch before he can get it in the boat. The water supply gets contaminated with seawater, so he tries to get a few drops with condensation. Oh, and there’s the constant sun exposure, too.
We know from the beginning that this isn’t going to go well, because the overdub announces that “All Is Lost,” and then we rewind to eight days later, when the sea was calm and the winds were favorable and our intrepid sailor is obviously enjoying his regal solitude. And after that, we all know that things are going to go downhill, it’s just a matter of watching the venerable Mr. Redford deal with serial adversity in stony stoic silence.
Yes, it’s a little boring. And practices just a bit of viewer deception. And goes for the cheesy ending, when had it ended two minutes earlier it could have left the viewers guessing. As it is, well, there’s not much left to mystery. Just water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink. And Redford, Redford , everywhere, and not a word on what he thinks.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Minister, St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, Irving , Texas