It’s very, very tempting to refer to Robert Redford’s new film as The Old Man and the Sea. But that would be neither accurate nor fair, because All is Lost features an actor who is graceful and empathetic and intelligent and cunning and determined to survive, come what may, in complete ignorance of the number of years he has been breathing air on this planet.
In his heyday, Redford carried around a reputation that he was more of a pretty boy than a real actor, someone who coasted to stardom on his good looks and surface charm, never clawing beneath the surface of the characters he played, and stayed at the top because of his winning smile and unwillingness to take risks. To date, he has received only one Academy Award nomination for his acting (1973’s con man caper flick The Sting, opposite Paul Newman), and it was only when he stepped behind the camera that the Hollywood community recognized his abilities, granting him an Oscar for Best Director for 1980’s Ordinary People.
In the promotional material for All is Lost, Redford’s character is called “Our Man,” but he could just as well be called “Any Man” or “Lonely Soul” or “The Drifter.” He is sailing alone, somewhere in the Indian Ocean, when the story begins. A container, filled with athletic shoes, rips into the hull of his boat, opening a small hole that looks like a giant chasm when the ocean water begins to flow inside. The sailor patches the hole as best he can, thinking through the best way to handle the situation; he does not panic or mutter to himself or jot his thoughts down in a journal.
In short, he is well-suited to sail alone on a long ocean voyage, adrift on an unforgiving sea.
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All is Lost opens wide throughout the Metroplex on Friday, November 1.