All Is Lost
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The one-man show is a popular award season staple, designed to highlight the superior acting abilities of one talented star. But rarely do you find a one-man show thatís as simple, as solitary, or as quietly mesmerizing as Margin Call director J. C. Chandorís All Is Lost.

All Is Lost stars Robert Redford as an unnamed, unknown sailor whoís struck by one catastrophe after another as he tries to sail his way across the Indian Ocean. It all begins when he wakes to find that a shipping container has collided with his yacht, creating a gaping hole in the hull. Though he manages to find a workable solution to the problem, heís suddenly left without his navigation and communication systems. So, unfortunately for this solitary sailor, his struggles at sea have only just begun.

All Is Lost has so much going against it. It doesnít have a big ensemble cast full of the hottest A-list stars. In fact, it doesnít have anyone but Robert Redford. And, letís face it: the 77-year-old star isnít nearly as hot now as he was a few decades ago. The film also has next to no dialogue, apart from the brief narration that opens the film and a handful of choice words along the way. It doesnít even have a big, booming scoreóor a big CGI tiger.

Redfordís character, meanwhile, is a complete mystery. The film offers no hints about who he is, where heís from, what heís doing alone at sea, or whoís waiting for him to come home. He doesnít even have a name.

So although it may depict all kinds of disaster at sea, All Is Lost is missing the snappy dialogue and character development typically found in the most fascinating films. And that makes it sound almost unbearably distant. After all, what good are exhilarating action sequences if you donít care about the character?

Still, despite its simple, quiet drama and its mysterious hero, All Is Lost is a surprisingly compelling film. Redfordís character may not have a name, but youíll soon find yourself invested in his silent struggle against the elements. Itís a harrowingóand often relentlessóbattle, and though the character hardly says a word, youíll learn a lot about him by observing his reaction to each new obstacle. After a while, you might even forget that you know next to nothing about the character, and youíll find yourself lost in the action and drama of his story.

The filmís pacing is also perfectly balanced. At times, itís action-packed and tense; at other times, itís strangely serene. And, in both cases, it makes up for the lack of dialogue with its remarkable use of sound.

It may seem like the usual Oscar baitóand, in a way, it is. But All Is Lost isnít just a pretentious display of one actorís dramatic abilities. Itís a tense and surprisingly gripping thriller thatís sure to make you think twice before climbing aboard another boat.

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