I went to see this today with somewhat high expectations. I totally loved the clip that raigraphixs posted back in May, earlier in this thread in which we see Redford quietly fixing his sail then hearing the sound of thunder in the far distance. You see a look of apprehension mixed with "well, bring it on then". All this expressed through those aged wrinkles and eyes. That alone sold me to this movie and that is what we get throughout the film and in truth its Redford's brilliantly understated and VERY physical performance we are paying are tickets to see. He is awesome, its Jeremiah Johsnon at sea but with 77 years of gravitas.
There is no background story, its all about the journey of the old man vs the nature of the seas. Absolutely engaging and even riveting but I hesitate to say that word. Why? Because of the beginning. For some stupid reason (which I think they call flipping art), the film begins with a flashforward of 8 days. So everything that happens within that time frame robs us of some tension. I remember being irritated by this "art" mechanism in Charlie's War (Tom Hanks). Most of you will probably not agree with me and good for you. But in my view, it was pointless.
There is nothing unexpected in this film so its all down to the director's ability to engage us and its a very admirable job. There is nothing virtuoso or flashy. The perspective is surprisingly claustrophobic, we never actually get cinemascopic views of the seas or the storms, the camera is mostly always on Redford giving us a raw intimacy with him. So intimate, we the viewer almost know where everything is on the yacht.
The film could have done with a touch more humour (naturalistic of course) to balance the grit of the journey but its no biggie.
This is actually not a far cry from Gravity in all honesty. Similar premise, just swap space for the seas. The big difference for me is that this felt so much more real, that is Redford jumping about fixing holes, climbing poles, getting soaked, getting down and dirty whereas Gravity is a virtuoso special effects ride with Bullock and Clooney safely in the studio stage harness rigs. ALl is Lost, feels like proper stuntwork stuff going on and as an old school stunt action lover, I really dig that. But dont get me wrong, Gravity was excellent in its own way too. In fact I think Gravity ticks more boxes in all round entertainment and was a brilliant piece of story telling and film making. All is Lost doesnt quite tick all those boxes and that flashforward beginning spoils it but the film compensates in its raw delivery and Redford's outstanding performance. Redford in fact, far outshines Bullock and Clooney in Gravity...but of course he would, he's a veteran legend and although Gravity may be the better film, its because of Redford, All is Lost might garner more repeat viewings from me than Gravity.